Yokohama Tire Corp. (YTC) will invest $13 million through next summer at its Salem tire plant to expand capacity for car and light truck tires produced there by 10 to 12 percent.
YTC said the expansion reflects increasing demand for consumer and light truck tires and will create 50 to 55 jobs at the plant.
The project will include new tire-making machinery, upgrading and modifying existing machines and increasing flexibility for making high-performance car and light truck tires, Yokohama said. The expansion should be on stream by August 2011.
The plant's capacity is listed as 5.6 million units a year, according to Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd., YTC's Japanese parent company. Employment stands at about 860.
We have seen very strong demand and our increase is well above the industry average, said Dan King, vice president, sales and marketing. We have gained more allocation from our offshore plants, but it is not enough. That's why the expansion at Salem will help fill the pipeline with our popular consumer tires such as the AVID ENVigor and S.drive, as well as light truck tires from our Geolandar line.
Mr. King noted there's strong demand growth worldwide, and Yokohama Rubber is spending $117 million in Thailand to add 1.4 million units of annual capacity to its Rayong plant there.
The expansion announcement comes four months after members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1023 accepted a new four-year contract agreement, which included non-closure language for the duration of the pact. The local represents 670 workers at the 42-year-old plant.
Yokohama bought the plant in 1989 from Mohawk Rubber Co.