QUINCY, Ill.Citing weak market conditions in key OTR tire sectors, Titan Tire Corp. plans to lay off about 130 employees at its Bryan, Ohio, plant and another 150 workers at various factories in Europe over the next few months.
Titan disclosed the moves in mid-Decembershortly before filing a petition with Ohio's Bureau of Employment and Training Programs within the state's Office of Workplace Development.
The company said it plans to begin laying off workers at its Bryan earthmover tire plant on Feb. 8. The firm also is negotiating with various union and agency officials in Europe to determine when that round of cuts will begin there.
Some supervisors probably will be among those being laid off, according to CEO and Chairman Maurice Taylor Jr., who noted the cutbacksat the Bryan plant, at leastare expected to be temporary.
A subsidiary of Titan International Inc., the company's latest layoffs aren't being forced by the downturn in the coal mining market, he said. Titan made cuts at other plants within the last two years in response to the general decline in the mining business, he noted.
Its latest round of cuts ties in with the faltering construction and related markets.
We've had two down years, but I expect business to be a little better in 2016 than in 2015, Mr. Taylor said.
Titan suffered operating losses in the third quarter and nine months of 2015 on markedly lower salesdown 28 percent for the January to September period.
When the market is off for two years, the third year is usually flat,...and then we grab market share and move up. So I do expect business to pick up or at least be flat this year. That all depends on market conditions, he said.
While most of the layoffs are expected to be temporary, it is likely they will last at least six months, Thomas Ort, operations manager at the Bryan operation, said in a Dec. 9 Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification to the Bureau of Employment and Training Programs within the Ohio Office of Workplace Development.
He also said if market conditions don't improve, some layoffs could become permanent.
Mr. Taylor, however, does not anticipate that will happen.
We're making the layoffs to keep our head above water in the U.S. and Europe, he said. We still have over 2,000 employees.
Workers covered by the Bryan factory's collective bargaining agreement with the United Steelworkers (USW) union will have bumping rightsthat is, the right to take the positions of junior employees if their own jobs are eliminated, according to Mr. Ort.
A positive change at the plant could be made this year or next, Mr. Taylor said. Titan Tire might add capacity for Titan's proprietary low sidewall (LSW) tires to the manufacturing mix at the complex, he said.
LSW tires feature a larger rim diameter and lower profile sidewalls than standard tires.
Quincy-based Titan Tire has owned the Bryan facility since August 2006, when the firm purchased it from Continental Tire North Americas Inc. The factory has been through its share of labor unrest, including a company lockout in December 2010 that affected workers at Bryan and two other facilities in the U.S.
After losses in the third quarter of 2014, Mr. Taylor said the company was working with the USW to realign the Bryan plant to improve profitability.
He did not disclose further details.
While some of its U.S. and European factories have been negatively impacted, other parts of Titan Tire are doing pretty well, according to Mr. Taylor.
He cited the company's Russian and South American facilities, and the success of new products introduced last year in the U.S. as examples of gains the firm has made.
During the last two years, Titan Tire has brought in a new management team who Mr. Taylor said has done a good job and has pointed the company in the right direction.
On a separate front, Titan International's plans to set up a pyrolysis system in the Fort McMurray, Alberta, oil sands through subsidiary Titan Tire Reclamation Corp. are moving forward. Mr. Taylor said he hopes to have the facility operational in April.
The company will reclaim rubber, carbon black and steel from off-the-road tires and conveyor belting at the site. Titan Tire plans to use the carbon black byproduct in its own tire production.
This story appeared in Rubber & Plastics News, an Akron-based sister publication of Tire Business.