Belle Tire Distributors Inc. is converting part of its new headquarters building in Allen Park to a ``mega'' retread plant, where the company plans to consolidate production from three existing plants in the Detroit area.
``We're looking to cut costs and improve logistics,'' said Belle Tire Vice President Tom Bowman, who oversees the company's commercial business. ``We had unused space at the new headquarters, so it just made sense (to consolidate).''
Belle Tire moved into the 306,000-sq.-ft. building-formerly a Frito Lay North America potato chip plant-in late 2006 and is using only a portion of the space for its administrative offices. It also uses up to about half the space for warehousing.
The dealership anticipates starting production at the new Bandag system plant by mid-May, eventually building up capacity to a level where it could produce 900 tires a day in a two-shift operation, Mr. Bowman said.
Once the new plant is up to speed, Belle intends to shut existing plants in Detroit and Redfern, Mich., and consolidate their production and some of the personnel at the Allen Park location.
The company will keep a third Detroit-area plant, in Madison Heights, open for the time being, he said, but eventually that production also will be phased out in favor of the Allen Park plant and a new facility the company plans to open in western Michigan to service a growing customer base in that part of its territory.
The plant at the Allen Park headquarters features all new equipment, he said.
This project supports Belle Tire's growing commercial business, which, at about $60 million a year, is double what it was only a few years ago, Mr. Bowman said.
Belle operates nine commercial service locations-including four that are combined with retail stores-with 108 service trucks and about 280 employees. It also operates Bandag plants in Toledo and Oakwood Village, Ohio.