Japanese tire maker Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. will be producing tires at its first U.S. plant by the first quarter of 2006, becoming the third Japanese and fifth foreign tire maker overall to make tires in the U.S.
Toyo's $150 million factory, at a 150-acre rural site northwest of Atlanta, will span 1.03 million square feet and be capable of producing about 2 million passenger and light truck/sport-utility vehicle tires annually. It will employ about 350 initially.
The firm's decision to produce tires in the U.S. was based on several factors, including the need to increase capacity to meet overseas demand and the desire to hedge against currency fluctuation rates. Yoshio Kataoka, Toyo president and CEO, said a U.S. tire plant will help it serve the company's North American customers, an important objective given the firm's greatest demand is in that market.
Toyo reported sales in North America of $512 million in fiscal 2004, or about a third of its global tire sales. The company's North American operations were $17.1 million in the red, however, on an operating basis.
Depending on demand, the company could invest an additional $250 million at the factory in as soon as two to three years to double capacity and create 550 more jobs at the site.
Soon after Toyo announced plans in February to build in the U.S.-with the Bartow County, Ga., site its preferred location-a property owners' group opposed to the construction filed suit to stop it. The group dropped the action after it claimed to be threatened with a countersuit by a government authority and landowners who favored the plant site.
Toyo confirmed the Georgia location as its choice in June, based on its proximity to areas of growing demand, access to railroads and highways, and a skilled local work force. The facility will include rubber compounding capacity and about 430,000 square feet in warehousing space to serve Toyo's Southeast and East Coast customers.