MILAN, Tenn.—China-based Global Track Manufacturing has invested an estimated $2.5 million into a Tennessee manufacturing site that is expected to bring at least 250 jobs to the area by 2021.
The firm purchased a 530,000-sq.-ft. site in Milan in 2017 that previously had operated as a Tower Automotive facility about a decade ago. The site had been vacant until Global Track owner Barry Min purchased it and began investing in lighting and facility upgrades with the goal of making rubber tracks for large U.S. manufacturers such as Case and John Deere, among others, said Kingsley Brock, Gibson County director of economic development. The plant is located in Milan.
Global Track produces rubber tracks and rubber pads for original equipment manufacturers in automotive, farm and industrial equipment and other related industries. The company produces its products by blending a rubber formula, inserting iron teeth and steel cable winding and vulcanization. According to its website, this process allows for the correct hardness and quality of the final products.
Initial production is expected to start in the summer of 2020. Min, who was born in China but has spent much of his life in Australia, has visited Tennessee an average of four times each year since 2017 and has shown a commitment to the Milan facility. He and Brock have worked closely together during that time to not only secure the site, but research available tax incentives and discuss strategies for finding experienced labor.
"He was told that to attract some of the manufacturers he wants to do business with that he should make some of his products in the U.S., and he's really become committed to that goal," Brock said. "It has taken him a little time to acclimate to this community because he never had been to Tennessee, but he's really spent some quality time here and wants this to work."
Under Min's direction, Global Track hired a plant manager in early 2018 and already had begun to make investments in the facility when higher tariffs were imposed on many Chinese-made products by President Donald Trump. The "Trade War" set Min back a bit in the production cycle, but he has vowed to open the facility by 2020. To that end, Min ramped up investments this year to the point that the Milan location is largely operational.
"The installation process will take a few months," Min said in an email. "We hope to begin testing the equipment and production process in the first quarter of 2020 and begin shipping rubber tracks in July/August timeframe."
Some of the equipment Min ordered to help start production will arrive in Tennessee this month, Brock said. Global Track expects to start hiring production staff, including engineers and machinists in the next few months, he added. Many of those staff members will be used to run rubber molders in the plant. A handful of back office personnel will be needed as well, although Brock said the hiring will happen gradually.