GREEN, OhioAmerican Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. has christened its North American technology center in Green, a facility the top executives of parent Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. termed essential to the firm's plans to gain OE supply contracts in North America.
The 50,000-sq.-ft. facility is home to 18 technicians but could house 60 to 70 in two to three years, according to Tom Williams, vice president of engineering at Kenda.
Kenda budgeted $2 million to open the facility, which sits about a mile east of the Akron-Canton Airport between Akron and Canton, Ohio, Mr. Williams said. In addition, state, county and local agencies are contributing about $1.5 million in aid and investment incentives.
Some of the incentives are tied to minimum employment, according to information released earlier this year.
Kenda expects the addition of the U.S. technology center will be instrumental in helping the Taipai, Taiwan-based company break into the OE business in North America, according to Kenda Rubber Chairman Ying-Ming Yang and his brother, American Kenda Rubber President Jimmy Yang, speaking with Tire Business following a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 9.
The firm already is an OE supplier of temporary spare tires to a number of U.S. vehicle makers, Jimmy Yang said, providing Kenda with an existing relationship on which it hopes to build.
The Green technology center is Kenda's third such facility, complementing centers in Yuanlin, Taiwan, and Kunshan, China.
Reynoldsburg, Ohio-based American Kenda, a subsidiary of Taiwan's Kenda Rubber Industrial Co., announced plans in April 2014 for an Akron-area R&D center. It set up temporary R&D operations last year on the premises of Martin Wheel Co., an affiliated firm, in Tallmadge, Ohio. Those personnel and other newly hired technicians are now housed at the Green facility.
On display at the ceremonial opening was the company's Klever HT2, a highway traction light truck tire that is the first example of a product engineered by the U.S. staff. It's due out next summer.