ABILENE, Texas — Bridgestone Americas Inc. broke ground recently on a previously disclosed $60 million expansion of its Bridgestone Bandag L.L.C. tread rubber plant in Abilene.
The project, which will boost capacity by 16% and add 50,000 square feet to the 52-year-old plant, is aimed at meeting the rapidly growing demand for retreads, Bridgestone said.
The expansion, set to be complete by January 2025, includes an immediate increase in operations — the plant will run on six and seven-day production schedules — as well as new mixing operations at the facility.
The expansion is expected to create up to 25 full-time jobs at the facility, which currently employs about 200 people. Bridgestone disclosed plans for the expansion in September 2022.
The 200,000-sq.-ft. Abilene tread rubber plant celebrated 50 years of operations in 2021 and "continues to be a steady fixture in production of high-quality pre-cured truck tread, rubber cement and solvent packaging."
Chris Daniel, executive director, Bandag Manufacturing, Bridgestone Americas, lauded those at the facility, saying they "have a vital role to play in the transformation of mobility brought forth by a desire of building greener retreads, while helping maximize fuel efficiency for fleets."
The Abilene facility is one of three tread rubber plants Bridgestone Bandag operates in North America. The others are in Griffin, Ga., and Oxford. N.C.
Late in 2022, Bridgestone stated sales of Bandag-system retreads were on target to eclipse sales in 2021 in North America by more than 9%, to more than 7 million units.
Bandag retreads are produced by dozens of independent retreaders throughout the U.S. and Canada at 200-plus retread plants. Bridgestone claims the 7 million-plus units represent over half of the North American market for medium truck/bus tire retreads.