JOLIETTE, Quebec—Bridgestone Canada Inc. has broken ground on a previously announced $250 million, five-year capacity expansion at its 50-year-old Joliette car and light truck tire plant.
Announced in February, the multi-phase expansion of the facility—which manufactures both passenger and light truck tires—will help meet market demand as well as increase productivity and enhance the plant's global competitive position. It will increase the size of the plant nearly 13 percent to 1.13 million square feet, but it will not create any new jobs, the company said in February.
Bridgestone noted that with 1,300 employees, the plant is the largest private employer in the Lanaudiere region, located just northeast of Montreal.
New technology and advanced equipment will be phased in over a five-year period, helping increase plant capacity by 3,000 tires per day for a total capacity of 20,000 tires per day by 2023. The new equipment will support a shift in the plant's product mix to 18- to 22-inch SKUs, Bridgestone said, from the current 15- to 18-inch mix.
“Our investment in updated equipment and improved manufacturing processes reflects our ongoing commitment to identifying new, cost-effective and innovative ways to serve consumers, dealers and original equipment manufacturers,” Robert Verreault, Joliette plant manager, said in a statement.
“Canada continues to represent an important market for our company, and this investment represents a tremendous opportunity for Bridgestone, Joliette, the Lanaudiere region and the North American markets by enhancing the long-term viability of this facility,” he said.
Constructed as a Firestone plant in 1965, the Joliette plant began operations in 1966. Today, the Joliette facility is recognized as one of the Bridgestone group's most environmentally sustainable plants. Among the awards the Joliette staff has received are:
- Regional Pride Award given by the Joliette Chamber of Commerce;
- Productivity Improvement Award and Business of the Year Award from the Federation des Chambres de commerce du Quebec;
- Grande Mention at the Grand Prix Quebecois de la Qualite from the Government of Quebec;
- Silver Award for Quality at the Canada Awards for Excellence; and
- Recyc-Quebec Certification—Gold Level 3 certification, given by the Government of Quebec to companies that recycle more than 90 percent of their waste.
Specializing in the manufacturing of passenger, SUV and light truck tires, the plant celebrated the production of its 150 millionth tire in 2014.
Bridgestone executives attending the Aug. 18 celebration included Gordon Knapp, chief operating officer, Bridgestone Americas Inc. and chairman, CEO and president, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations; Jan Steinmetz, chief human resources officer, Bridgestone Americas; Barry Owens, vice president, manufacturing, BATO; and Mitch Burke, executive director, consumer manufacturing, BATO.
Other attendees included Gabriel Ste-Marie, Joliette federal deputy; and Alain Beaudry, mayor of the city of Joliette.
“I'd like to congratulate the Joliette teammates and retirees on their hard work and contributions to the plant's success,” Knapp said in statement. “With its long-standing relationship to the Joliette community, as well as its commitment to environmental best practices,
“I know this plant will continue to showcase the values and priorities of Bridgestone Americas for many years to come.”