HOUSTON—India's JK Tyre & Industries Ltd.—the world's No. 22 tire maker, according to recent Rubber & Plastics News data—has initiated operations at a subsidiary company in Houston to handle the importation and distribution of its products in the U.S.
Establishing Western Tires Inc. in Houston is part of an "aggressive plan to take the global business to the next level," New Delhi-based JK Tyre said.
This move, JK said, will build on its 2008 acquisition of Mexican tire maker Hulera Tornel S.A. de C.V. and capacity additions at JK Tyre India in response to "steady growth" in the U.S. and other global markets.
Western Tires will serve as the company's marketing arm for the U.S., focusing on sales, service and network expansion for the JK and Tornel brands. The after-sales service will be backed by technical teams in India and Mexico.
The new U.S. operation shows "the significance of this country in our larger global expansion plans," said Raghupati Singhania, chairman and managing director of JK.
"With our own sales and marketing channel, we are furthering our commitment toward the U.S. market to provide an enhanced delivery and service experience to our customers," Singhania said.
JK Tyre's portfolio for the U.S. market includes passenger, light truck and truck/bus tires.
JK Tyre is the No. 3 tire maker in India and No. 22 globally, based on fiscal 2018 sales of $1.5 billion.
For the nine months ended Jan. 31, the company reported a 9.6 percent drop in revenue to $976 million. JK's Mexican operations accounted for 14 percent of global revenue, or roughly $140 million.
Up to now, JK Tyre has been exporting to the U.S. through a network of local partners, the company pointed out. Among these is Lucy's Tire in Miami.
The company long has aspired to have a more established U.S. presence since its 2008 acquisition of Tornel, which operates three factories in Mexico with combined annual production capacities of nearly 8 million units.
In 2014 it indicated during the SEMA Show that year it was preparing to use Tonrel as a base of operations to push the JK consumer brand into the U.S. on a broad scale once a $45 million expansion of Tornel's manufacturing capacity in Mexico City was up and running.
In 2011, JK Tyre signed an agreement for Sure Tire Co. and Tireco Inc. to be Tornel distributors in the U.S., but those deals did not pan out long term.