By Chris Sweeney, Crain News Service
AKRON (Nov. 27, 2013) — Chinese tire equipment maker Mesnac Co. Ltd. is opening a research and technical center in Akron to serve the Americas.
The firm already has comprehensive research and development facilities in Qingdao, China, and a European unit based in Dubnica, Slovak Republic—the Mesnac European Research and Technical Center. P. David Jones, president of the North and Latin America region, said the new facility strengthens the company's North American presence.
Mesnac supplies a wide range of tire manufacturing equipment, from raw material mixing to final product testing. The firm has research facilities in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Qingdao and Beijing, China, along with sales and service operations in North and Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, India and China.
"In order to complete the link between the three vehicle centers, we obviously needed a facility here in the U.S.," Mr. Jones said. "We can do our research and development on equipment and make that development more attuned to the local markets here in North and South America."
Mesnac considered a number of other areas in North America for its center. The company looked at Greenback, Tenn., because of its existing presence there and other cities in Ohio. Mr. Jones said the company narrowed its focus to Akron because of the city's rich rubber history, which will provide a number of resources to complement Mesnac's research and development center.
The company recently acquired an office building alongside Interstate in west Akron and is actively recruiting employees. The goal is to employ at least 35 highly skilled tire engineers and scientists by 2016.
"We have identified certain jobs that we need to fill now," Mr. Jones said. "If business grows beyond our expectations, that figure could change quite easily. We wanted to be modest in terms of our projections."
Mr. Jones said the building has all the facilities the firm needs in terms of office requirements, but he added that at some point Mesnac will bring over laboratory engineering equipment.
Jerry Gu, Mesnac director of strategy and marketing, said the company's successful purchase of Wyko Tire Technology Inc. in 2011 gave Mesnac confidence to break further into the North American market. In addition to the new center in Akron, Mesnac recently acquired Test Measurement Systems Inc. for an undisclosed amount.
Gerald Potts, Test Measurement Systems CEO, will run the Akron center.
This report appeared on the website of Rubber & Plastics News, an Akron-based sister publication of Tire Business.