FINDLAY, Ohio (Jan. 16, 2004) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will boost car and light truck tire capacity this year at three of its four U.S. plants “to meet the steadily increasing demand for the company's tires.”
The Findlay-based tire maker will invest $32.1 million at its plants in Albany, Ga., Texarkana, Ark., and Tupelo, Miss., to boost annual capacity by more than 2.4 million units, including several hundred thousand units of high-performance tires.
Cooper said the investment capitalizes on the its LEAN manufacturing initiatives, which enhance efficiency and improve quality while also reducing waste. The investment includes the purchase of new tire building machinery and curing presses; the expanded capacity will require 116 new manufacturing employees, Cooper said.
Cooper will invest $19.4 million at Albany for a new tread line, 16 new curing presses and four new VMI tire building machines. The expansion will add 1.39 million units of new capacity.
“Utilizing the cell production process, we will hire 56 new employees or about half the number required under traditional manufacturing methods to make this number of tires,” Bill Woeste, vice president of manufacturing, said. “Our investment allows us to address our customers' needs along with continuous quality & productivity improvements which increases shareholder value.”
In October 2003, Cooper announced an outsourcing agreement with China's Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. to make Cooper's radial medium truck tires, which currently are produced solely by the Albany plant, at Hangzhou´s plant in China.
Cooper will spend $5.2 million at Texarkana to boost capacity by 560,000 tires annually. Included in the investment are eight new presses, additional tire building equipment and cell modification changes that will allow the plant to make larger diameter ultra-high performance tires.
The company also will add 25 manufacturing positions there.
The Cooper plant in Tupelo, Miss., will get a $7.5 million investment for six presses, increasing capacity 511,000 units annually. Thirty-five new employees will be required to support the increased production volume, according to a company statement.