Stockholm-headquartered Trelleborg A.B. has been expanding in North America—primarily in the U.S.—in the last several years, particularly its Trelleborg Wheel Systems and Trelleborg Sealing Solutions businesses.
Supporting Trelleborg Wheel Systems' plants and expansion moves in North America, Europe and Asia is its worldwide research and development operation. It features centralized research centers in Italy and the Czech Republic along with dedicated local units at factories that focus on the development of tires and rims for local markets.
Pompei said the integration of Mitas a.s.—purchased by Trelleborg May 31 as part of a $1.25 billion acquisition of CGS Holding a.s.—into Trelleborg's operation “will create a new leader in the agricultural and forestry tires industry when we talk about innovation.”
Adding Mitas to the fold gave the company two manufacturing plants in the U.S., the Mitas 263,700-sq.-ft. factory in Charles City and Trelleborg's 215,300-sq.-ft. facility in Spartanburg, where the company converted a former coated fabrics site to radial agricultural tire production.
“Though we are in the startup phase (at the sites), the two facilities can count on a state-of-the-art laboratory and teams fully dedicated to product development,” Pompei said. When the firm adds a new testing area at the Charles City factory, he anticipates it will support even faster development of the company's products.
“We develop products and solutions with the clear target of increasing the productivity and the efficiency of our customers and also to reduce the environment impact in terms of CO2 emissions,” Pompei said when discussing the firm's R&D setup.
In a very competitive market environment, he noted that Trelleborg's aim is to lower the working time for its customers and, more importantly, cut fuel consumption. “This is particularly important in North America where there is, in my opinion, still a lot to gain when we talk about efficiency in tires.”
He views the U.S. agricultural market as the biggest in the world and maintained the company's R&D capabilities in the country will play an important role in delivering products fully dedicated to the market.
Because of that, Trelleborg has put its plan in place to bolster and expand the capabilities of the R&D units at the Spartanburg and Charles City factories.
Further training of technicians at the sites is also a target in 2016 and 2017, Pompei noted. That will be achieved through a team of technicians traveling from Trelleborg's service center in Italy to the company's U.S. operations. “At least two expert trainers will be present continuously,” he said.