WILSON, N.C.―Bridgestone Americas plans to expand capacity at its Wilson passenger tire plant nearly 10 percent over the coming five years with a $164 million investment.
Bridgestone said the investment will help it meet market demands and invest in newer, more efficient technology. The Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker anticipates breaking ground on the multi-phase project early this year.
The project will boost daily capacity at the 42-year-old factory by 3,000 units to 35,000 units by 2018, the company said, and will include capacity for the firm's DriveGuard all-season run-flat replacement tires.
Bridgestone did not comment on the expansion's effect on employment. The non-union plant employed 1,740 hourly workers at last report.
Phases one and two of the project, which will total nearly $100 million, will add 167,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate new tire-assembly machines, materials-handling systems, curing presses and associated equipment, Bridgestone said. The new equipment will allow the plant to respond to rising global demand for higher rim size tires, as well as improve quality and productivity while reducing costs.
“Our production and manufacturing capabilities must evolve with our products to meet the changing needs of today's consumers,” Plant Manager Michael Darr said.
“Our investment in updated equipment and improved manufacturing processes and facilities reflects our focus on maintaining our global competitiveness, as well as our commitment to the Wilson community.”
Bridgestone said the investment is part of its global commitment to develop innovative new products that meet growing and evolving market demand.
Bridgestone last expanded the plant in 1999, when it added 85,000 square feet to the facility.
The Wilson plant is one of only two passenger tire plants Bridgestone operates in the U.S., although it has one more in Canada and two in Mexico.
The plant has received numerous safety and environmental awards, including certification earlier this year as a Rising Star facility from the North Carolina Department of Labor. Among the environmental awards are three Green Factory Environmental Achievement Recognitions from American Honda and Underwriters Laboratories' landfill waste diversion claim validation for Zero Waste to Landfill.