DAYTON, Tenn. — Nokian Tyres P.L.C. has commissioned production at its Dayton passenger/light truck tire factory two years after breaking ground on the $360 million project.
Speaking to an audience of several hundred tire dealers, state, regional and local government officials, local and trade media and other invited guests, Nokian Tyres CEO Hille Korhonen and other Nokian executives declared the factory — the company's third overall and first outside of Europe — open for business.
Calling the opening a "key milestone" in Nokian's growth journey, Ms. Korhonen noted the Dayton factory will provide the impetus for her company's ambitious growth strategy — to double sales volume in North America by 2023 — as well as considerable career opportunities for residents of eastern Tennessee.
This facility will provide Tennesseeans a "premium work environment with Scandinavian values and 'Hakkapeliitta' spirit," she said, evoking the company's iconic winter tire brand, which in turn evokes a Finnish battle cry from centuries past.
For the time being, the factory is producing the company's enTYRE touring and WRG4 all-weather tires on a trial basis. These tires are being evaluating in Nokian facilities in Europe and elsewhere for their quality and consistency ahead of the plant's being certified for commercial-scale production.
The factory for now has about 100 employees — many of whom were trained at the company's plant in Vsevolozhsk, Russia — but employment is expected to ramp up to about 400 at full capacity, officials said.
In recognition of the partnership Nokian is forging with the region and local communities, the company announced it plans to establish a "Road to Sustainable Success" initiative that will support efforts to foster education in the region and reward students who achieve academic success.
Nokian officials referred on several occasions to the 830,000-sq.-ft. Dayton plant as "one of the most advanced tire production facilities in the industry." The factory uses state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment from companies like Comerio Ercole, VMI Group, HF Mixing Group, Herbert Maschinenbau, Steelastic Co. L.L.C., etc. and in-plant logistics from Cimcorp Oy.
While the factory uses the latest and greatest hardware and software, Nokian Chairman Petteri Walldén noted in his comments that it's "peopleware" that differentiates this plant from others.
Nokian officials also stressed the new plant will operate under strict sustainability standards to minimize waste and emissions. Solar panels capable of generating 3 megawatts of electricity will be installed in the parking lot, and the company will recycle excess materials that result from production.