RICHFIELD, OhioNexen Tire Corp. has confirmed that it plans to build a new R&D center in Richfield, in the Akron area.
Kyle Roberts, director of marketing for Diamond Bar, Calif.-based Nexen Tire America Inc., confirmed the accuracy of a report on the center published Aug. 14 in the Akron Beacon Journal, but had no further statement from the company.
That story said Nexen has outgrown the technology center it opened in 2008 in Richfield and will build a larger facility elsewhere in the village, with an expected ground-breaking either by year-end or in early 2016.
The U.S. sales/distribution arm of South Korea's Nexen Tire Corp. has inked a contract to purchase land in Richfield, according to Don Lee, the current facility's director of technology, who added that the $7 million project$4.6 million for the building and the rest for land and other expensesis expected to take from nine to 11 months to be completed.
Nexen told the Beacon Journal it has 16 employees working at its Richfield tech center but expects to have as many as 30 local employees there over the next several years once the new location is built on four acres of vacant land owned by the village.
Employees may move into the new center in late 2016 or early 2017, Nexen said, depending on how quickly the company obtains remaining government approvals and the speed of construction.
The company originally established a tech center near Akron because of what Mr. Lee called the expertise in tires, rubber and polymers in the area, noting: This is the perfect place to hire technical people.
Journal reported that in July Richfield's Village Council approved a 30,000-sq.-ft. facility, according to Brian Frantz, director of planning and zoning for the village. The final design may differ from the preliminary plans the company submitted, he added.
Nexen is among a number of other tire makers operating tech centers in the Akron area, including Bridgestone Americas; Goodyear; Kumho Tire U.S.A.; Kenda Tire U.S.A. Inc.; Triangle Tyre Group Co. Ltd.; Hankook Tire America Corp.; and Giti Tire (USA) Ltd.