Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will close its race tire and tread rubber plant in Athens, Ga., in the coming two to three months and move the plant's production to other company factories-tires to Findlay and rubber stock to Asheboro, N.C.
Cooper said it decided to close the 56-year-old plant, which employs 140, because moving its production to other company plants represents a better utilization of assets. Cooper estimates it will incur $11 million to $15 million in pre-tax costs, spread out over the remainder of fiscal 2006, to close the plant.
Hourly workers at the plant are represented by United Steelworkers Local 871.
Cooper budgeted $11 million in 2004-05 to add race tire capacity to the tread rubber plant but spent only a fraction of that, a spokeswoman said. The plant is producing Mickey Thompson DOT ET street radials; other production slated for the plant-DOT street-legal Avon Tech R radials and competition motorcycle tires-has not begun.
The company will move tire production to Findlay, where it recently converted production to a seven-day per week operation, thus increasing potential capacity. The Athens plant was rated at 100,000 units a year.
Cooper said its Asheboro tread rubber plant will absorb the Athens plant's capacity for rubber stock used in mold-cure retreading. Cooper launched an initiative in 2004 to consolidate precure tread rubber production at Asheboro.
``This strengthens our (retread) business by having a single site for all of our retreading products,'' the spokeswoman said. ``We remain committed to our retread operations and intend to grow this business through aggressive sales and marketing efforts and utilizing our assets accordingly.''
Cooper acquired the Athens and Asheboro plants in 1999 in its purchase of Oliver Rubber Co. It invested $4.2 million in Athens in 2001 to cover the consolidation of tread rubber capacity from a Dallas plant that was being closed.