CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Continental Tire North America Inc. is in the late stages of negotiations that, if successful, will move the firm´s base to South Carolina from North Carolina.
The tire maker is considering a facility in northern Lancaster County, S.C., to become the new headquarters for its North American operations, according to Rick Holcomb, Continental´s legal counsel.
The size of the building, which still is being designed, hasn´t been determined, "but it certainly will be large enough to accommodate the 320 corporate employees housed at Conti´s Charlotte plant," he said.
Meanwhile, Conti is getting ready to sell its four-story, 125,000-sq.-ft. Charlotte factory, Holcomb said, but it has no plans to close its mixing, calendering, puncture sealant and warehousing operations at the site. Tire production ended at the facility in September 2006.
"We are currently marketing the plant to sell it and then lease part of it back to use for our operations," he said. The company employs about 120 at the site.
Conti is headquartered at the Charlotte facility, a few miles from the South Carolina border. The proposed site in Lancaster is only about 10 miles from the current location.
Talks between Conti and the property developer in Lancaster have been going on for six months but became more serious in the last 90 days.
Holcomb said no agreement has been signed, and it´s remotely possible the discussions could fall through.
"I think any issues will be resolved soon, and we hope to close the deal as soon as possible," he said.
Holcomb didn´t give details of the talks, but said the company and developer were discussing either the purchase or a lease of the proposed building.
Conti was one of Charlotte´s largest employers until it began scaling back production at its tire plant in the city in 2006 following long and unsuccessful labor contract negotiations with the United Steelworkers.
The German-owned tire maker declared an impasse with the union on April 30, 2006, and implemented a massive cost-cutting plan at the plant. The company slashed more than 800 jobs and suspended tire manufacturing at the plant five months later.
Continental´s remaining factories in North America are in Mount Vernon, Ill., and San Luis Potosi, Mexico.