TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—Michelin North America Inc.'s BFGoodrich brand is celebrating 70 years of manufacturing at its Tuscaloosa plant, which produced its first tire on Oct. 23, 1946 and has churned out nearly 490 million tires since.
To celebrate the milestone, the brand is launching a consumer promotion in west Alabama. Consumers who purchase a set of BFG tires during October through independent local dealers within 50 miles of the Tuscaloosa plant will quality for a Mastercard gift card worth $50.
Originally constructed to produce material for the military during World War II, the plant comprises more than 1.6 million square feet of manufacturing space and has supported a number of “firsts” in the tire industry, including:
- First tubeless tire in the U.S.;
- First American-made radial tire (Lifesaver Radial T/A);
- First low aspect-ratio tire;
- First American-made passenger car tire certified for racing (BFGoodrich Radial T/A);
- First radial all-terrain tire built in the U.S. ( BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A);
- America's first V-rated tire (BFGoodrich Comp T/A);
- First light-truck radial mud tire (BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A);
- First tires for NASA's space shuttle;
- First purpose-built, off-road radial desert race tire (BFGoodrich Baja T/A); and
- First American-made tire selected as OE on a Porsche (BFGoodrich Comp T/A).
“Our BFGoodrich facility in Tuscaloosa has been on the leading edge of tire innovation and performance for decades,” said Scott Clark, chief operating officer for Michelin. “We're proud to celebrate the dedication of the employees in Tuscaloosa who are responsible for producing some of the most iconic tires ever made for racing, recreation and passenger vehicles.”
The plant employs approximately 1,400 and operates on a 24/7 schedule, manufacturing tires and producing semi-finished materials like uncured rubber and associated materials needed for tire construction.
Michelin recently announced a 67,000-sq.-ft. expansion to the plant's warehouse department.
According to Michelin, the Tuscaloosa site is distinguished by its production of competition tires as well. These accomplishments include the first street-legal drag-racing tire; the first street radial tire to compete at the 24 Hours of LeMans in France; the first passenger-car tire to defeat pure race tires; and a total of 86 overall wins in the SCORE Baja desert racing series.
The plant also plays an integral role in the Tuscaloosa community, Michelin said, donating more than $175,000 to charitable causes in the area and supporting local school programs. It was one of the first businesses to become an Adopt-A-School partner in Tuscaloosa and continues its commitment to workforce development through sponsorships and involvement in programs like the West Alabama Worlds of Work Career Expo.
Michelin said the plant's estimated economic impact on west Alabama came to more than $145 million in 2015.