DAYTON, Tenn.—Eighteen months after breaking ground on its first North American tire facility, Nokian Tyres P.L.C. is on schedule to begin producing tires commercially by early 2020.
The Finnish tire maker said the hiring process is under way, with 200 of the facility's 400 employees expected to be working by year-end.
Peter Chia, Dayton factory operations director, cited the "tremendous collaboration" among several involved parties for keeping the project on schedule.
"When we were recruiting this project, our goal was to strengthen the community and our economic base," Dennis Tumlin, executive director of the Rhea Economic and Tourism Council, said. "It has exceeded our expectations with how quickly we have seen economic growth as a result. We couldn't be more pleased."
Construction of the $360 million plant, Nokian's third globally and first in the Americas, was disclosed in May 2017. Groundbreaking was held in September of that year, and full-scale construction began in earnest in March 2018.
Four months later, construction teams had erected the first wall and laid the foundation of the production building, using more than 6,000 cubic yards of concrete.
In December, contractors began installing equipment, a process that continues today as the finishing touches are being made on the production and mixing buildings. The mixing silos are complete and ready to house raw materials when the production process begins.
According to Nokian, contractors are preparing to connect utilities to major areas of the facility. The tire maker also is hiring and training workers who will participate in the production ramp-up process.
"While it's gratifying to build the facility itself, we're even more eager to build a strong workforce that will craft premium tires," Chia said. "We're looking for driven employees who want to be part of a positive, productive culture."
Tumlin said the construction project has benefited he local community since the announcement was made.
"Our lodging tax collections increased significantly in 2018, which was driven by the construction traffic, and our local option sales tax and housing market have experienced similar growth."
Tumlin said lodging tax collections have risen 11.7 percent since the company began construction, and local option sales tax receipts are up 7.24 percent.
At full capacity, 400 workers will be hired. At capacity, the plant will produce 4 million passenger, SUV and light truck tires per year, specifically for North American consumers.