CHARLES CITY, Iowa—Mitas Tires North America Inc. has grown quickly in the U.S. during its first year operating in the country, and is continuing to expand its Charles City factory.
New curing presses and tire building equipment have been installed at the plant in the last several months. The company also is adding six curing presses, four tire building machines and other machinery, a process that will continue throughout 2013, according to Pavel Charvat, president of Mitas Tires North America and the Charles City plant director.
The 245,500-sq.-ft. facility, which features production space of about 205,500 square feet, began producing radial farm tires last April. It's considering a physical expansion to increase its tire storage capacity at the site, he said.
Mitas' parent, Prague, Czech Republic-based Mitas A.S., has invested about $52 million in the factory and is looking to reach full production capacity three years earlier than originally planned, the firm said. It's the only subsidiary Mitas A.S., one of Europe's largest producers of agricultural tires, operates in the U.S.
Output at the plant has increased rapidly and on Jan. 2 Mitas began running two 12-hour shifts a day, seven days a week. Each shift averages 40 hours of work weekly.
"Mitas is increasing its Charles City output in line with orders from both original equipment manufacturers and replacement market customers," Charvat said.
About 1,700 metric tons of tires have been produced at the factory since April and sold to customers mainly in North America.
The facility employs about 179 but the company is looking to add more tire builders and other staff, the executive said.
By year end, he said, the Charles City plant is expected to have 237 employees and production capacity of about 13,500 metric tons of tires a year. Approximately 24 U.S. employees are undergoing training at plants operated by Mitas A.S. in Europe.
The company selected Charles City, located in the U.S. agricultural heartland, as the site of its U.S. factory for several important reasons, Charvat said, including "its Midwestern location, vicinity of OEMs, high work ethics, and the forthcoming approach of local and state authorities."
It's also a good place to manufacture its products, he said, because the market in North America is one of the largest for agricultural radial tires both for the OEM and aftermarket segments, he said.
Charvat anticipates the U.S. operation will continue to improve "as long as the American farmer's business grows. Besides, the radial farm tire offers better characteristics when compared with the diagonal tire and when mounted on powerful tractors. So the share of radial tires on the farm tire market will be growing."
Mitas Tires North America focuses on manufacturing large radial tires, weighing up to half a ton, in Charles City. Parent Mitas A.S., a business unit of Czech Republic-headquartered CGS A.S. Holding Group, makes a wide range of industrial and motorcycle tires, operates three factories in the Czech Republic and another in Serbia.