AKRON—VMI Group is working out of a temporary plant in Poland as it constructs a new factory that should be operational in the Eastern European country by next June.
The new project was needed because rising demand for the firm's tire building machinery was more than the company could handle at its existing production sites in the Netherlands and China, according to Harm Voortman, president and CEO of Epe, Netherlands-based VMI Group.
He and Arie Kroeze, president of VMI Americas Inc., discussed the project during the International Tire Exhibition & Conference, held Sept. 13-15 in Akron.
Its largest manufacturing site is at its headquarters in the Netherlands, with the Chinese location making modules that are shipped to Epe and finished there, Voortman said. But with the amount of new plant and expansion activities in the tire business, VMI determined there was a need for another production site.
So it recently started production at a rented facility in Poland and bought an 850,000-sq.-ft. tract of land.
It is investing an undisclosed amount to build a 27,000-sq.-ft. building for the first phase of the project, the VMI CEO said.
Right now the machinery maker is employing 40 at the temporary facility and will have the staffing level up to 60 by the end of 2016, Voortman said. “Then when we move into the new building, we will quickly ramp up to at least double that size.”
The Poland site will produce modules much like the China factory does now, working in practical terms as a sub-supplier to the headquarters plant.
“It will be a quick ramp-up after we have the new facility in place,” Voortman said. “That facility will help us to shorten the delivery time of our equipment while maintaining a low-cost level. Shipping parts from China to Holland costs time, and that is on the critical path of our delivery time. So we will be able to deliver quicker and still be cost-effective. We needed the third location because we couldn't grow as rapidly as we needed at the other two production sites.”
VMI chose Poland for a variety of reasons, he said. First, the firm needed a location within two days driving of VMI Holland. Another factor was having access to good, qualified staff, so it searched for a location with enough young people, universities and technical schools nearby.
The company did receive some tax incentives from the Polish local government, but that wasn't the deciding factor because all locations in Eastern Europe would offer similar packages, he said.
Depending on business levels, the new plant easily can be expanded to accommodate future expansion if needed.