SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico (Jan. 11, 2011)—Despite the global challenges of an economic downturn, financial difficulties in Asia and the U.S. tariffs on Chinese tire imports, Kumho Tire Co. Inc. returned to the black in 2010 and promised its dealers expanded product and support this year.
That's the message J.H. Kim, president and CEO of Kumho Tire, had for the company's North American tire dealers gathered Jan. 8 in San Jose del Cabo. He reminded them how at last year's meeting he had pledged that Kumho would continue as a global tire supplier even though Kumho Asiana Group was near receivership and financial analysts were giving gloomy reviews to Kumho Tire, the Korean parent of Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.
“My prediction has come true as a result of all of you,” Kim said.
Kumho Tire underwent “dramatic changes” to serve its retailers and distributors, including forging a new labor agreement with South Korean workers to improve efficiencies and, he said, offering U.S. dealers “better product at a better price.”
Kim said the three-year U.S. tariffs imposed on China tire imports created “special challenges” for Kumho Tire as it was forced to realign the product mix of each of its factories. That meant shipping tires to the U.S. from its plants in South Korea and Vietnam instead of China.
“Kumho will meet the challenges we all face with improved speed and commitment in 2011,” Kim pledged, adding that he would do his best to assist its U.S. division.
Among those challenges are the U.S. tariffs and the skyrocketing costs of natural rubber and oil. Kim said to expect natural rubber costs to continue to rise during the first half of 2011 and to expect another tire price increase in February.