John Hagan, Nexen's executive vice president of sales, didn't mince words when describing the challenges over the past two years.
"The industry, like all industries, had a supply issue: No containers. No ships. And somehow we all woke up and all the tires were coming at us," Hagan said. "We have been struggling through to get this back in line, and we thank you for your patience.
"It's been a big struggle. The same with pricing challenges. We've been through a lot and the industry has been through a lot."
Nexen's move from Diamond Bar, Calif., to Richfield, Ohio — where it has all three business units under one roof — created more obstacles than anticipated.
One of the biggest, Hagan said, was assembling a staff. The company needed people not only to replace those that didn't follow the company east, but also handle the growth the company is experiencing.
"We didn't realize how much of a task it would take to grow the company when we got to Ohio," Hagan said, adding Nexen has hired more than 30 people in a five-month span.
"We are building the team; we're building a new culture," he said. "At end of the day, we wanted to bring people back to the office to build a new culture for Nexen so we can grow in the coming years, and we've been able to do that."
Brian (Yoonseok) Han, CEO of the North American subsidiary, thanked the dealers for their patience during the Seoul-based tire maker's transition to Ohio.
"I do appreciate your patience. We are improving our operation with a new staff,' he said. "We have hired talented new people so I think we can show a new era of Nexen tire from now on."
The Nexen execs said the company expects to increase capacity from 46 million units in 2021 to 52 million units in 2023. In addition, the company is targeting sales of $55 million in 2025, an increase from $41 million in sales in 2021.
Han said the tire maker's $1 billion greenfield tire factory in Zatec, Czechoslovakia, which went online in 2019, produces tires exclusively for the European market, allowing the Korean factories to supply North America exclusively.
The original equipment market continues to be a priority for the company, which has secured fitments with such auto brands as Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Volkswagen and Porsche. Hagan said more will follow, particularly for electric vehicles.
"We're really trying to improve our fitments going forward," he said. "We're trying to do as much as we can to improve our OE fitments in the United States because we know if we get a good solid OE fitments, it helps the brand and it also helps the replacement market in the future."
Jason Yard, who has been marketing director at the company for a year, is also working on boosting Nexen's brand awareness through sports sponsorships, including existing partnerships with Man City soccer and the Anaheim Ducks professional hockey team.
"There's a lot of work left to be done," Yard said. "We're trying to bolster the brand, and we are doubling down on consumer awareness."
Hagan told dealers that Nexen has some work to do yet, but it has come a long way since he joined the company in late 2016.
"We are a growing brand We are a solid brand. We are a very dedicated brand," he said. "Every day, we want to support every customer in this room. It is daily commitment that we have to grow your business and grow your confidence where we can every day."
He said Nexen doesn't take business lightly, "like some other manufacturers."
"We have a new culture, a new robust team, and we continue to grow. We continue to look for good talent and we will not stop until we get the team we need to support you. We want to grow with you. ... We want to be be the best company you do business with."