Graniteville, SC - During an event attended by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Bridgestone Americas Inc., a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, announced the construction of a new 1.5-million-square-foot off-road radial tire (ORR) manufacturing facility on a greenfield site in Aiken County, SC. Bridgestone Americas also announced an additional 474,000-square-foot expansion of the existing passenger (PSR) and light truck (LTR) tire plant in Aiken County, SC. The company previously announced a 266,000-square-foot expansion of this plant in July of this year. When fully completed, these three projects will total a $1.2-billion investment and will increase Bridgestone Americas' workforce in Aiken County by more than 850 jobs (direct and contractor positions).
Bridgestone Off-Road Radial Tire Plant
"The announcement of this greenfield off-road radial tire plant is a major strategic investment by the global Bridgestone Group to enhance its supply systems, improve its sourcing flexibility and further strengthen the Bridgestone Group's position as the global leader in the off-road radial tire segment," said Gary Garfield, vice president and senior officer, Bridgestone Corporation, and CEO and President, Bridgestone Americas.
Demand for off-road radial tires is steadily increasing as the need for mineral resources grows due to rapid economic expansion across the globe. The construction of this new ORR plant is consistent with the company's global sourcing strategy and will strengthen the ability of the global Bridgestone Group to cement its leadership position in this important market segment.
The new ORR manufacturing facility will be located at a greenfield site in the Sage Mill Industrial Park in Aiken County. Previously, large and ultra-large ORR tires had been produced exclusively at Bridgestone Corporation's Shimonoseki and Kitakyushu plants located in Japan. Bridgestone believes that it can more effectively respond to customer needs and growing global demand, however, by installing ORR production technologies developed in Japan in the new U.S. plant resulting in further supply systems improvements. In addition, by establishing production bases outside Japan, the Bridgestone Group will have multiple options for possible further future expansions, improving its ability to rapidly respond to changes in the operating environment and customer requirements.
The plant will be built with a focus on the environment. The company plans to achieve LEED Construction Certification by incorporating state-of-the-art technology in its facility and equipment design.
Timeline and key facts for the new ORR plant construction and start-up:
- Manufacturing equipment for the first phase of the plant will be installed starting in the fourth quarter of 2012.
- The first production tire is scheduled to be produced by the end of the first quarter of 2014 with a target date of full phase one production by the end of 2015.
- The first phase of the project will initially create more than 330 full-time and contractor jobs.
- The project is expected to result in approximately 550 new full-time and contractor jobs when fully completed (planned for 2020).
Expansion of Existing Aiken County PSR/LTR Plant
This capacity expansion at the existing Aiken County PSR/LTR tire plant announced today, along with the earlier expansion announcement in July, is intended to meet growing demand in key market segments, including ultra high performance and light truck/SUV tires. The addition of new, more advanced tire building machines will provide the plant with an additional level of versatility and will give the plant even greater flexibility and speed in responding to shifts in market demand. Over the long term this versatility and flexibility will help the company address customer needs by improving the fill rates of these tires.
Timeline and key facts for the PSR/LTR expansion project:
- In July the company announced the first phase of the PSR/LTR plant's expansion, a $135-million investment designed to increase daily capacity by 4,750 tires.
- The expansion announced today will, when complete, increase the plant’s tire production by an additional 8,000 tires per day.
- When fully completed, the two projects will increase the plant’s square footage by 740,000 square feet – to 2.74 million square feet – and result in a rated production capacity of 37,750 tires per day or approximately 13.4 million tires annually.
- Construction of both phases of the plant’s expansion is planned to begin in November 2011 with an expected completion date in the first quarter of 2013.
- The first production tire is projected to be produced in the expansion areas during the third quarter of 2013.
- The two PSR/LTR projects are expected to create more than 300 new full-time and contractor jobs in Aiken County when fully completed (planned for 2015).
In his remarks during the announcement in Aiken County, Garfield expressed his appreciation for the assistance received by the company in connection with the projects. "We've had tremendous support from the leadership in South Carolina including Gov. Nikki Haley, Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, County Council Chair Ronnie Young, The Economic Development Partnership as well as South Carolina Electric & Gas, readySC, the South Carolina Ports Authority, Aiken Electric Cooperative, Norfolk Southern Railroad and our local legislative leaders who have all worked collaboratively with us to help make these investments a reality. On behalf of the global Bridgestone Group of companies, I would like to express my most sincere appreciation for their support and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with the state of South Carolina and Aiken County."
Gov. Haley said, "Today's announcement represents the largest initial capital investment by a company in our state's history, and we celebrate the more than 850 new jobs. This is a continuation of the good work we are doing to partner with companies. South Carolina has a great reason to smile today."
Secretary of Commerce Hitt continued, "Bridgestone Americas is a world-class manufacturer and this investment will be a real game-changer. "The company's new plant will further strengthen South Carolina's manufacturing sector, and shows that our business-friendly environment and top-notch talent continue to keep us competitive with locations across the globe."
"On behalf of the citizens of Aiken County I want to thank Bridgestone Americas for this significant new investment and job creation being announced,” said Aiken County Council Chairman Young. "The County Council works hard to create an environment where manufacturing companies can locate and be successful. We are grateful for Bridgestone Americas' confidence in our workforce and community. We look forward to working with them as they continue to grow."
"This is a great day for Bridgestone Americas and Aiken County," said Gary Stooksbury, chairman of the board of The Economic Development Partnership. "We are very appreciative that Aiken County was chosen for this new investment. This historic announcement reflects on the strong partnership that exists between Aiken County and Bridgestone Americas. The strength of our community lies with our manufacturing base."