WILLIAMSBURG, Ky.—When Bridgestone Americas Inc. established its Firestone Industrial Products air springs facility in Williamsburg in 1988, it knew it would need room to grow.
And more than three decades later, the fast-changing automotive landscape has helped necessitate a need for continued expansion at the site.
Demand from the commercial vehicle market has remained high and on the expected growth trajectory. FSIP products have supported ground load conditions on commercial vehicles for decades, FSIP President Emily Poladian said, but the advent of electric vehicles has broadened opportunities for the business unit's range of products.
Meanwhile, consumer expectations have driven demand for air springs in the luxury vehicle market, adding additional opportunities for FSIP.
So the company is growing with the diversified demand.
FSIP broke ground Aug. 2 on a $51 million, 68,000-sq.-ft. expansion at the Williamsburg factory. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and several state and local dignitaries joined FSIP employees and Bridgestone leadership at the event.
The expansion will give the Williamsburg facility more than 445,000 square feet overall, making room for increased capacity and an additional 250 professionals—a majority filling hourly manufacturing jobs—by December 2022. While most new jobs available will be for hourly line workers, there is a need for some salary staff, including process engineers, supervisors and back office professionals, Poladian said. The plant runs shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
While hiring for hourly positions over the last year remains a challenge given the pandemic's impact, Poladian is confident her team will be able to find the workers they need.