DAYTON, Tenn. — The finish line may be two years away for Nokian Tyre P.L.C.'s journey to produce its first tire in North America, but the Finnish company took a major step toward that goal on Sept. 20.
A gathering of close to 200 guests, including dignitaries from near and far, broke ground on the tire maker's third tire manufacturing facility, jump-starting the company's stated goal of doubling sales in North America within five years.
With temperatures — and the humidity index — hovering near the 90s, recently appointed Nokian President and CEO Hille Korhonen joined Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and a contingent of state, county and local politicians to celebrate the groundbreaking. The ceremony was held under a large tent pitched on the plant's future site, located outside of Dayton, a small community with a little more than 7,000 residents, located about 35 miles from Chattanooga in southeast Tennessee.
"This is really a historical moment for Nokian Tyres," Ms. Korhonen said, as earthmovers growled in the distance. "I'm so proud of the company. We are so excited to get things moving. Through this almost $400 million U.S. investment, we are showing our commitment longterm to serve our customers and to become members of this society."
After two years of discussion focused on building a plant in North America, the Nokian board of directors greenlighted the $360 million facility in May. It will produce passenger, SUV and light truck tires specifically for North American consumers and is scheduled to go on-stream in 2020. Officials say it will have 400 employees and an eventual capacity of 4 million tires per year.