BLUFFTON, Ohio—Tokai Rubber Industries Ltd. wants to grow. As long as its U.S. subsidiary, DTR Group, continues to do its part, that will happen.
With $552.3 million in total sales, the DTR Group accounts for approximately 25 percent of Tokai's total sales. Around a third of that comes from DTR Industries Inc. in Bluffton—Tokai's first manufacturing presence in the U.S.
Tokai said it hopes to achieve $10 billion in sales by the early 2020s. Its 2012 sales were $2.64 billion and the company projects its 2013 sales will reach $3.65 billion.
In order to help Tokai reach $10 billion, DTR just has to keep doing what it's doing.
“I don't think it necessarily needs to be big growth, as long as its continual growth,” said Bill Yokas, senior vice president of manufacturing at the Bluffton operation. “The demographics point to that type of growth.”
Since it was established in 1988, the Bluffton plant has expanded 13 times and grown from 88,000 square feet to 340,000, its current size. It started with 17 associates and now employs 670, which the firm said makes it the largest employer in Bluffton and the second largest in Allen County.
“We truly owe our success to our associates,” Yokas said, “(And) to our customers for their trust and confidence in our ability to provide quality product, our parent company Tokai and the communities in which we work and live for providing the necessary services to support our growth.”
Tokai was founded in 1929 and joined the Sumitomo Rubber Group in 1937. It started the production of automotive parts in 1954. The firm said that one vehicle out of every two in the world contains a Tokai product.
The group made its first overseas investment when it started the Bluffton plant as a joint venture with Duramax Corp. Tokai assumed total control of the venture in 2002, and it remains its largest investment outside of Japan.
DTR said it relies on Tokai for the design and development of its product and processes. The parent company sets the long-term vision for the firm, but gives DTR the autonomy to achieve those goals.
Tokai has expanded its manufacturing footprint through four major acquisitions—Avis Group, Dytech, Produflex M.G. and ITTC. Its supply system now consists of 102 sites among five economic regions. Tokai extended its manufacturing footprint to 74 sites in 24 countries, up from 43 sites in 11.
The DTR Group consists of five facilities: manufacturing plants in Bluffton; Midway and Tazewell, Tenn.; and in Chihuahua, Mexico. It also has a technical center in Novi, Mich.
DTR fits into Tokai's long-term vision by continuing to grow its customer base in the U.S., either through additional business with the Detroit Three or other non-Japanese manufacturers, Yokas said. DTR is operating about 68 percent ahead of what was planned for its 2013 total sales.