WEST POINT, Miss.—Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi held the grand opening on Oct. 5 for its $300 million commercial tire plant in West Point with more than 300 dignitaries and guests in attendance.
The 1 million-sq.-ft. plant, Yokohama's largest in the U.S., is expected to reach full capacity of 1 million truck and bus tires annually by year-end 2018.
The factory will mainly produce 22.5- and 24.5-inch truck tires for the North American market. The tire maker, which broke ground on the greenfield plant two years ago, said the facility shows its OEM customers that the firm is committed to the U.S. marketplace.
“The tires they need will literally be a call away,” Takahuru Fushimi, CEO of Yokohama Corp. of North America—an entity that oversees all Yokohama-related operations in North America—told journalists during a press conference.
Rick Phillips, vice president of sales, consumer, commercial and OTR for Yokohama Tire Corp., added that the plant will help Yokohama speed up the lead time for order fulfillment from months—when the tire maker relied on offshore tire shipments—to a few days with the new domestic production it gains.
“It's one of the most efficient plants Yokohama has in the world,” Phillips claimed.
Yokohama officials said the plant will enable them to eventually phase out their sourcing of truck tires from the GTY joint venture facility in Mount Vernon, Ill., where the company shares production with Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.
The Mississippi plant's opening marks YTC's completion of Phase One of construction. If demand increases in the future, Yokohama said it will consider implementing a Phase Two expansion project at the site.
“The grand opening of our first U.S.-built plant is truly a historic day for Yokohama,” said Tadaharu Yamamoto, president of YTMM.
“Thanks to Gov. Bryant, the great state of Mississippi, the entire community of West Point, the Golden Triangle Region and the incredible Mississippi workforce, the plant site was developed to a fully operational state-of-the-art facility in record time.”
YTMM said thus far it has hired more than 260 employees and plans to eventually reach a workforce of 500. The plant, built on more than 500 acres of land, houses manufacturing, warehousing and operations facilities.
Among the speakers at the Oct. 5 ceremony were Hikomitsu Noji, president and representative director of Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. (YTMM's parent company in Tokyo) and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who said the manufacturing facility's opening “brings full circle a project that broke ground just two short years ago.
“I appreciate the Yokohama team, the Mississippi Legislature and state and local officials who have worked hard from day one to expedite this project and create so many jobs for the residents of West Point and the Golden Triangle region.”
The governor went on to congratulate Yokohama “on this milestone event, and the state of Mississippi looks forward to many more years of partnership with this great company.”