RICHBURG, S.C.—Giti Tire Group, the predominantly Chinese tire maker headquartered in Singapore, has selected a site in Chester County, S.C., for its first U.S. tire plant, a $560 million project that Giti said will create 1,700 jobs over 10 years.
Giti Executive Chairman Enki Tan disclosed the company's plans this morning at a ceremony in Chester, accompanied by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, Singapore Ambassador Ashok Kumar Mipuir and other state, county and local officials.
The 1.8 million-sq.-ft. plant and distribution center will be designed with a first-phase annual capacity of 5 million tires, Tan said, for both replacement and original equipment customers. The plant will be engineered to allow for additional capacity “in response to future market demand and conditions,” said Tom McNamara, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Giti Tire (USA) Ltd., Giti Group's Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based sales and marketing subsidiary.
“This significant investment represents our strong commitment to customers in North America,” Tan said. “This is a key milestone for Giti Tire and an important part of our growth strategy worldwide. Existing business and strong demand for Giti Tire's passenger and light truck tires in North America has made this significant investment in South Carolina possible.”
Giti generated about 16 percent of its $2.7 billion in fiscal 2012 sales—$430 million—from business in North America, where it goes to market under the GT Radial, Primewell, Dextero, and Runway brands.
Chester County is a largely rural county with about 33,000 residents in South Carolina's Piedmont area about 50 miles southwest of Charlotte, N.C. A plant in Chester County would have direct access to Interstate 77.
Lei Huai Chin, managing director of Giti Tire Group, called Chester County an “excellent location for Giti Tire, offering an extensive and efficient infrastructure network including interstate highways, rail, close proximity to airports and a major metropolitan area to support the company's needs and growth for many years to come.”
McNamara stressed the plant will be built with a “focus on maintaining a healthy balance with the environment and following Giti Tire's green initiative.”
Giti's project is the fourth greenfield tire plant to be located in South Carolina in the past four years, representing more than $3 billion in investment, according to archives of Tire Business, a sister publication of Rubber & Plastics News. In addition, Bridgestone Corp. and Michelin North America have announced several hundred million dollars more in expansions of existing factories in the state.
“This is another huge win for our state and Team South Carolina,” Gov. Haley said. “… Giti's decision to come to our state is another great sign that our economic development efforts are paying off for the hard-working people of South Carolina.”
“(This project) further bolsters our state's reputation as a manufacturing powerhouse and the nation's tire capital,” Hitt said. “We look forward to a long and successful partnership with Giti Tire in our state.”
South Carolina officials did not disclose the amount of state and/or local economic assistance being offered, but Gov. Haley's office said readySC—a division of the South Carolina Technical College System—will assist with recruiting and training the firm's initial workforce.
Brian Singleton, chairman of the Chester Development Association, said, “We … are anxious to work with them building this new world class tire manufacturing operation.”
“The new facility will combine manufacturing plant and distribution center with total building area estimated to be 1,800,000 square feet. The first phase of production capacity is expected to be 5 million tires annually. Giti Tire plans to further increase production capacity in response to future market demand and conditions,” said Tom McNamara, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Giti Tire (USA) Ltd.
Based on its estimated $2.8 billion to $3 billion in fiscal 2013 annual sales, Giti Tire Group is the 13th or 14th largest tire maker worldwide, according to Tire Business' annual analysis of the global industry. It has eight plants in China—five tire production and three materials support plants—and is a minority owner of P.T. Gajah Tunggal Tbk. of Indonesia, which gives it access to production from that firm's tire manufacturing complex near Jakarta.
Gajah Tunngal in its own right reports more than $1 billion in annual revenue, a portion of which it derives from sales to Michelin, which holds a 10 percent ownership share in the Indonesian company.