WAYNE, N.J. (March 3, 2004) – Hankook Tire America Corp. is counting on expanded production capacity at Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. plants in China to help it keep dealers in North America well stocked as the firm builds on a record sales performance in 2003.
While declining to make specific projections for 2004, Hankook “is off to a banner start” this year, according to Bill Bainbridge, marketing director for the U.S. sales company. Last year Hankook Tire's sales in the U.S. grew 19 percent to $250 million.
Hankook is in the midst of expansion projects at its two plants in China, adding 3.8 million units of annual radial tire capacity at its Hankook Tire (Jiaxing) Co. Ltd. plant by year-end 2005 and 2.45 million units of annual capacity by 2007 at its Jiangsu Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. bias-ply and radial tire plant.
“Increased capacity at our new plants in China, coupled with stronger supply capabilities, have resulted in a markedly improved picture in terms of sales and in servicing our network of dealers throughout the U.S.,” Mr. Bainbridge said. “Our suppy network is keeping pace with orders around the U.S. while keeping our distribution centers well stocked.”
The company has several new products in the pipeline, Mr. Bainbridge said, which the company will start rolling out in the next 60 days.
Helping to boost sales this year will be Hankook's new original equipment contracts with Ford Motor Co. for the F-150 pickup and Econoline vans. These OE deals help boost the image of the Hankook brand in consumers' minds, Mr. Bainbridge said, and many of the firm's dealers have signed up with Ford's “Around the Wheel” dealer support program to supply Ford dealers with tires.
Building the brand's image is a key element in Hankook Tire America's marketing program, which involves advertising signage at selected arenas and stadiums of Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball. The latter is new to the program this year.
“This program is starting to pay dividends,” Mr. Bainbridge said. “Our dealers tell us they're starting to see consumers' recalling the Hankook name when they're in their stores shopping for tires.”