SEOUL, South Korea—Soo Il Lee, president and chief operating officer of Hankook Tire America Corp. from 2009-12, is returning to the U.S. for a second stint as president, effective mid-January.
Lee—president and COO of parent Hankook Tire & Technology Ltd. since January 2018—succeeds Hosung Suh, who's returning to the firm's global headquarters in Seoul after 2 1/2 years as the U.S. subsidiary's top executive. He'll be assuming an as-yet undisclosed assignment.
Lee will split his time between Hankook's America headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., and the global headquarters in Seoul. At the American Headquarters, Hankook noted, Lee will be tasked with three key areas of focus: competitiveness, innovation and results.
Suh said in a statement that Lee's expertise and vision will benefit him greatly in the new position and will help Hankook continue its growth within the Americas.
"As a proven leader, Lee brings his wealth of Hankook knowledge and experience back to America," Suh said. "He will help us continue to elevate our brand and continue our growth in the region. He also understands the value of customer service and our commitment to excellence in manufacturing high-quality products for North American consumers."
Hankook plans to enhance its competitiveness within the North American tire industry, and has developed a strategy to achieve this goal. The company said it aims to do this by seeking new innovation and leaning into research and development efforts.
Under Suh's leadership, the tire maker took a major stride toward this end when it opened its first U.S. manufacturing facility, a 1.5-million-sq.-ft. plant in Clarksville, Tenn.
Lee began his career with Hankook in 1987, and has held a number of executive positions in that time. Most recently, he served as president and chief operating officer at Hankook's global headquarters in Seoul. Prior to that, he held positions as executive vice president and chief marketing officer, and chief corporate management officer. In 2009, he was named president and chief operating officer for the American Headquarters.
"I am looking forward to the opportunity to lead Hankook Tire's team in America," Lee said in a statement. "As we move into this new decade, I am excited about being able to continue the growth of our American headquarters as well as implement the necessary strategic initiatives that will continue our goal of becoming a global leader in the tire industry."