GPX International Tire Corp. plans to close its solid tire plant in Mississauga, Ontario, before midyear and consolidate its solid tire capacities at plants in Gorham and Xingtai, China.
GPX cited a weakening market for industrial tires and strong competition from solid tire makers in Sri Lanka for its decision. The moves will allow GPX to cut costs, rationalize its manufacturing operations and compete more effectively with entry-level and imported tires, said Troy Kline, president of the firm's Solid Tire Division.
By consolidating its North American operations, GPX said it will be able to optimize production at the 58,000-sq.-ft. Gorham plant and return it to a five-day work week. This consolidation will require an expansion of the production capacities at Gorham with a resultant increase in the work force there to about 80 from 64, he said.
GPX will move some equipment to the Gorham plant from the 60-year-old Mississauga site and also purchase new machinery.
``We're maximizing our floor plan to add 12 presses, mills and other equipment'' at the Maine site, he said. ``We're refurbishing the whole plant.''
Higher-end specialty solid tire manufacturing will be relocated to Gorham, while commodity tire and some solid tire production will be shifted to GPX's Hebei Starbright Co. Ltd. plant in Xingtai, he said.
The firm's specialty wheel facility in Red Lion, Pa., also will benefit from the changes, Mr. Kline said, getting wheel-making equipment from Mississauga and adding 10 workers to its staff of 16. The company didn't give financial details of the consolidation.
By expanding the plant capabilities in both Maine and Pennsylvania, Mr. Kline said the firm can respond much more quickly-usually in two to three days-to specialty product orders.
After production ceases at Mississauga, GPX will sell the building but will maintain a distribution center and other offices in Canada.
The plant had been owned and operated by Industrial Tires Ltd. for decades when Maine Industrial Tires Ltd. acquired the business in 1999. ITL and Maine Industrial, which began operating in 1949, were bought by GPX in April 2006.