With a $580 million plant opening last year in Clarksville, Tenn., Hankook Tire America Corp. has a higher profile than ever in its history. Jim Sicking, Hankook senior director PCLT sales, told Tire Business the company continues to position itself as a premium North American brand.
Q: With the year nearing its halfway point, how would you describe the state of Hankook in 2018?
A: Hankook Tire continues to grow its presence in the American market. We are aggressively positioning ourselves as an innovative, high-quality brand that believes strongly in American values.
We recently became the official tire of Major League Baseball — a decision that elevates awareness of our brand among an audience that closely mirrors our own. Our launch of the Kinergy ST pattern in April is the latest in a string of new products designed to meet consumers' needs in a tailored manner.
Q: Where do you see industry markets going in the second half of 2018?
A: Customers purchased ahead of price increases in the first quarter of 2017, which led to higher sales numbers across the entire market than in the first quarter of 2018. However, we have rebounded very nicely in the second quarter and maintain an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year. Market fundamentals do not suggest sales will slow any time in the near future.
Q: What trends are you seeing in the marketplace? How are you reacting to them?
A: Increases in the cost of raw materials have elevated prices across the market. Hankook is committed to being responsive to such changes in a responsible manner.
Q: What sectors are struggling? Do you expect them to rebound? If so, how soon, and if not, why not?