WOLSZTYN, Poland—It won't be long until European customers of Firestone Industrial Products Co. L.L.C. reap the benefits of the company's latest expansion.
The $2.7 million project at its facility in Wolsztyn, expected to be completed by the end of the year, not only will provide the company with additional room to manufacture more air springs, but also add storage space that will reduce delivery time.
The company has been stockpiling air springs at an off-site storage facility.
"The additional space in our plant will allow us to manufacture the product, hold it in our Poland facility and ship it directly to our customers, shortening the lead time to respond to fluid customer requirements," Piotr Bogaczynski, managing director of Firestone Industrial Products Europe, said in an email. "Firestone also has a distribution center in the Netherlands, and we will continue to keep that facility stocked."
Ground was broken at the plant on May 6 to add nearly 40,500 square feet to the existing facility in Wolsztyn, a town with a population of 13,500 located in western Poland. Once completed, the factory will be 130,000 square feet.
Those who attended the ground-breaking include John Vincent, president of Firestone Industrial Products; Pawel Gajda, Wolsztyn plant manager; Bogaczynski; and other Firestone workers. Firestone Industrial will hold an opening ceremony later this year.
The company said the global growth of air suspension prompted the expansion.
Firestone will add more manufacturing equipment as needed to support the plant, which opened in 2005.
"Firestone manufactures a full product line of air springs (at the Polish plant) across all sales channels—original equipment, heavy duty aftermarket, automotive and industrial," Bogaczynski said.
The Wolsztyn plant is one of six Firestone Industrial Products sites worldwide that manufacture air springs.
Once the project is complete, the Polish facility will be the company's second-largest manufacturing operation. The 350,000-sq.-ft. plant in Williamsburg, Ky., is the largest, according to Boga¬czynski.
Firestone Industrial Products—a division of Bridgestone Americas Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis—operates several production and/or technical facilities in North America, Latin America and Asia, in addition to Europe. They include three sites in the U.S. (Dyersburg, Tenn.; Williamsburg, Ky.; and Fishers, Ind.); two in India; and one each in China, Brazil and Costa Rica.
Firestone Industrial Products also maintains a European business and tech¬- nical center in Arnhem, Netherlands, and operates warehouse and distribution facilities in Indianapolis and in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Reducing the amount of delivery time also an integral factor as Firestone Industrial Products moved forward with the expansion.
"Firestone is committed to continuous improvement in all facets of our business," Bogaczynski said. "It is very important to us to both meet and exceed our customer's requirements. Improving delivery time is an ongoing goal, and increasing our warehouse space will allow us to ship product directly from our facility, saving the time of transporting inventory from offsite storage to the plant."
Bogaczynski said the Polish facility will add to its work force of 170 as needed. Should business at the site continue to grow, the location offers more room for expansion, although it could not support another as large as the one under construction.
Firestone Industrial Products began more than 75 years ago, when Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. purchased a plant in Noblesville, Ind.
In 1938, the company said it produced its first pneumatic suspension device, known as the Firestone Airide Air Spring.
Today, Firestone Industrial Products, with 1,100 employees, calls itself the world's No. 1 manufacturer of air springs and technology. The company's products are used in light vehicles, sports utility vehicles, buses, motor homes, agricultural equipment, heavy-duty trucks and trailers, rail cars and industrial applications.
Bogaczynski said the expansion is moving along well.
"With the improved delivery times that will result from this capability, we will be well positioned to support both existing and new business," he said.