RICHBURG, S.C.—Giti Tire Group has initiated production at its $560 million Richburg tire plant, making Singapore-headquartered Giti the 16th global tire maker with U.S.-based manufacturing capacity.
The plant's initial production is focused on Dextero-brand car tires for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., but the company is preparing to add GT Radial-brand production yet this year and launch a range of Giti-branded tires starting in 2018, Giti Tire (USA) Ltd. executives said during ceremonies held Oct. 4 to mark the start of production at the 1.7 million-sq.-ft. plant and distribution center.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Greg Foran, Wal-Mart Stores president and CEO, were on hand along with other state, regional and local officials and plant supplier representatives to help mark the milestone.
An official plant opening ceremony is planned for next year.
The factory, plans for which were announced in mid-2014, is scheduled to produce up to 200,000 Dextero-branded passenger tires for Wal-Mart this year, company officials said.
Production should ramp up to several million passenger and light truck tires in 2018, then to the plant's first-phase nameplate capacity of 5 million tires.
The factory's physical layout can accommodate a doubling of that capacity to 10 million tires "as demand warrants," according to Hank Eisenga, vice president, manufacturing and plant manager.
In his prepared remarks for the event, Enki Tan, chairman of the Giti Tire Group, said his firm's investment in the plant demonstrates its firm commitment to North American customers.
He lauded the extensive infrastructure network in Chester County, S.C., and a commitment to a highly skilled workforce for help to create a world-scale plant in rural South Carolina.
Foran and a team of Wal-Mart executives headlined the event, which in part commemorated the retailing giant's "America at Work" initiative to solidify its relationship with U.S. suppliers and supply of U.S.-sourced goods.