LAS VEGAS — Prinx Chengshan Tire Co. Ltd. — a former Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. joint venture — is setting up a U.S. sales office to support the launch of a new truck and bus tire brand in North America.
Rongcheng, Shandong, China-based Prinx Chengshan has hired industry veteran John Aben — formerly with Giti Tire (USA) Ltd. and Nexen Tire America Inc. — as president of the new company, Prinx Chengshan North America Inc., which is being established in the Los Angeles area.
Prinx Chengshan anticipates shipping tires to North American customers starting in early 2019, but the company has yet to settle on a brand name, Mr. Aben said. The company uses the Austone, Chengshang, Fortune and Prinx brands in other countries, but Mr. Aben said they are not being considered for North America.
Sales in North America primarily will be on a container-load basis to start, Mr. Aben said, noting the company expects its importer of record application to be approved soon.
Prinx Chengshan — formerly Cooper Chengshan (Shandong) Tire Co. Ltd. — is considered the No. 33 tire maker worldwide with fiscal 2017 sales of $855 million.
It operates one plant in Roncheng City, Shandong, producing passenger, light truck, medium truck/bus, farm and OTR tires at a rate of 15 million units a year. It claims to be the China's fifth largest truck and bus tire maker and has disclosed plans to add capacities of 2.6 million truck/bus tires and 10 million passenger tires per year.
The company also has announced plans to build a plant in Malaysia but has released few details as yet.
For now, the company is not considering selling passenger or light truck tires in the U.S., due to the elevated import duties on such tires from China.
Prinx Chengshan only recently went public, listing on the Hong Kong exchange under the name Prinx Chengshan (Cayman) Holding.
The company operated as Cooper Chengshan (Shandong) Tire Co. Ltd. from 2005 until December 2014, when Cooper sold its 65-percent interest in the venture to China's Chengshan Group Co. Ltd.
Prinx Chengshan continues to make Roadmaster-brand radial truck tires for Cooper under an off-take agreement.
Mr. Aben was senior vice president of OE and consumer sales for Giti Tire for from June 2015 until this summer and vice president of sales for Nexen Tire from 2005 through 2015.
Mr. Aben has been in the tire business for 35-plus years, with experience in the retail, commercial, wholesale and manufacturing sides of the industry. His past experience also includes 16 years at National Tire Warehouse (NTW) and Sears Tire Group, and he also held management positions with Winston Tire Co. and Tire Centers L.L.C.