ARDMORE, Okla. — Citing "evolving market demands" in coming years, Michelin North America Inc. plans to end tire production by year-end 2025 at its Ardmore passenger tire plant and move the plant's capacity to other Michelin plants in North America.
The decision to close the 53-year-old plant in southern Oklahoma — shared earlier today with employees, customers, community leaders and other public stakeholders — will affect about 1,400 employees. Rubber-mixing operations at the plant are scheduled to continue.
The plant — opened in 1970 by Uniroyal Inc. and acquired by Michelin in 1989 — is one of five factories Michelin operates in the U.S. with passenger tire capacity. The others are in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Greenville and Lexington, S.C.; and Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Fort Wayne and Tuscaloosa plants are union facilities.
The plant's capacity is listed as 23,000 units a day. Earlier this year Honda North America Inc. honored Michelin North America with a top supplier award for 2022, and in particular cited the contributions of the Ardmore plant.
Despite substantial investments over the past five years to improve technical capabilities and competitiveness at the plant, Michelin said it concluded the Ardmore factory is not equipped to deliver tires at competitive costs that will meet evolving market demands in the coming years.
Continuing to make investments to modernize the Ardmore plant would negatively impact other U.S. sites in the network, Michelin said. Ardmore is a city of about 24,000 residents.
"Michelin has strived to be a good steward in every chapter for this plant and community. Winding down operations is the hardest of all business decisions," Terry Redmile, senior vice president of manufacturing for Group Michelin's Americas Zone, said. "The company has carefully explored every other option before resolving this decision,
"In the months ahead, we'll work through every stage of the transition with a deep sense of stewardship for the Ardmore community," Redmile said. "Our goal is to provide individual support for each person at the Ardmore site to start a new chapter in the best way possible. This also includes starting conversations with local and state-level leaders to determine the best ways to lend support for this community even after the transition."
In line with Michelin's "values of respect," the company said it is committed to support employees, the community and partners throughout this transition.
Company officials were scheduled to meet with employee representatives on Oct. 26 to discuss specific details and through individual conversations over the coming weeks.
Precise timing has not been determined for specific phases of the wind-down, Michelin said. Based on the current outlook for market demand, however, operations at the Ardmore plant are expected to continue trending gradually lower until mid-2024, when the first wave of staffing reductions will occur.
Additional reductions are expected to occur in phases through 2025 as transition plans are finalized, Michelin said.
The rubber-mixing operations at the Ardmore plant supply other factories in North America, and therefore are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, the Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker said.
Among the fundamental market conditions Michelin cited in reaching this decision are:
- the dominance of light trucks and cross-over vehicles in North America, which require ever-larger tire sizes;
- dynamic market transition to electric vehicles; and
- customers' requirements for continual improvements in rolling resistance and other sustainable materials technologies.
Taken together, these factors add substantial complexity to the company's portfolio, which in turn requires much greater industrial flexibility.
Michelin idled operations at the factory starting Thursday morning, Oct. 26, to begin the process of presenting details about the transition directly to each team member. Operations are expected to resume normally early on Saturday, Oct. 28.