FINDLAY, Ohio—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. focused its global research and development efforts into one center 18 months ago. So far it is paying off.
The company's Global Technical Center, located in Findlay, opened in July 2015 and represents a $35.5 million investment. While it rests in the same location as the firm's North and South American center, it is not to be confused with it or the two other regional centers the firm operates in Melksham, England, for Europe; and Kunshan, China, for Asia.
The global center has a more broad focus on new technology and tools while the other three centers focus on developing new products specific for their regions. Specifically, the global center is tackling a number of challenges that the tire industry faces in the coming years. According to Chuck Yurkovich, vice president of global research and development, those include two main areas—developing alternative, domestic sources of natural rubber and new materials that can enhance lightweighting capabilities.
“The Global Technical Center is the center of excellence for what we would call advanced materials—things that we know we're going to need: Fuel efficient materials, lighter weight materials, better performing materials,” Yurkovich said. “We develop those and put them on the shelf so when the regional centers need them, they can draw from those.