TRELLEBORG, Sweden—Add Trelleborg A.B.'s name to the club of U.S. tire makers.
The diversified Swedish polymer specialist is spending $50 million through 2018 to add capacity for agricultural tires at a factory it operates in Spartanburg, S.C., where it makes coated fabrics used in the printing industry.
Production is scheduled to begin by the second half of 2015, Trelleborg said, without disclosing the plant's expected capacity. The plant should create 150 jobs at full capacity.
Trelleborg said the plant will span 430,000 square feet but didn't say how much of that represents new construction.
The company said the investment reflects the firm's desire to create a platform for local presence and growth in North America, where last year it generated $148 million in tire- and wheel-related sales.
“North America is the largest agricultural market in the world and it is highly attractive for us,” said Maurizio Vischi, president of the Trelleborg Wheel Systems business area.
“The market for extra-large agricultural tires, where Trelleborg is a market leader, is growing in the region,” he said. “Although we already sell our products in the U.S. and Canada, local production offers considerably more favorable conditions, thus enhancing our competitiveness. An expanded presence in North America is central to our growth strategy.”
The production will be located in a plant in Spartanburg operated by Trelleborg Coated Systems US Inc., a maker of coated fabrics used in printing blankets and similar products.
“We are already a leading global supplier of premium tires for agricultural machines and we now intend to consolidate this position through production in North America,” Vischi said, “with proximity to both existing global customers as well as a potential expanded customer base.
“We are building up specialty production of agricultural tires in a modern facility in a prime location, and we are also capitalizing on existing partnership agreements with major original equipment manufacturers and distributors, facilitating the transfer of technology from one part of the world to another.”
David Britt, chairman of the Economic Recruitment Committee of Spartanburg County and member of the Economic Futures Group Board, said the group is pleased with the news.
“We welcome this international operation, supplying the agricultural industry, and greatly appreciate their investment and job opportunities," he said.
This will be Trelleborg Wheel Systems' ninth tire and/or wheel plant worldwide, including a factory in Red Lion, Pa., for solid industrial tires. The company's other agricultural tire plants are in Tivoli, Italy, and Xingtai, China, both of which Trelleborg acquired.
The Tivoli plant originally belonged to Pirelli & C. S.p.A., while the Xingtai plant was built originally by Maine Industrial Tire Co.
Trelleborg Wheel Systems reported sales of $643.5 million in 2013, or about 20 percent of the parent company's $3.2 billion overall sales. Agricultural products accounted for 58 percent of the division's sales last year.
Trelleborg Wheel derives about $148 million of its sales from business in North America, according to the firm's annual financials.
Trelleborg Wheel's American sales unit, Trelleborg Wheel Systems Americas Inc., recently moved its U.S. headquarters to southeast Akron, site of its primary Ohio distribution center, from the west Akron suburb of Fairlawn, where it had been since late 2010.
Trelleborg said the move consolidates the North American sales, marketing and logistics personnel of the agricultural and industrial tire businesses at one location, which also includes warehousing. The firm's new address is 1501 Exeter Road, Akron, OH 44306. The company's telephone and fax numbers remain the same: 330-396-7130/330-396-7143.
Trelleborg's selection of Spartanburg will make it the fourth tire maker to choose the Palmetto State to set up production. Bridgestone Americas, Michelin North America Inc. and Continental Tire the Americas all have manufacturing in the state.
The firm's investment comes on top of more than $2.5 billion invested in South Carolina in the past several years by tire makers.