What would you like customers to know about how you tackled the challenges brought on by the pandemic?
RB: During the pandemic, SRNA continued to operate through it all, with work from home initiated and our warehouses continually receiving and shipping, we maintained our full work force. We also continued to request production at normal levels, although several of our factories suffered shutdown periods.
As the demand for our tires rebounded, our warehouse stock depleted. However, we concentrated on turning arriving container stock at a much higher level to maintain the best fill rates possible to our customers. We handled a record number of tires each day to maintain the best fill rates possible.
The SRNA team members responded in a remarkable fashion during the pandemic, transitioning to a work from home environment with lightning speed, causing little disruption to our business. New processes were developed to cope with changing demands, such as team communication styles, ocean freight delays, production disruption and rapidly increasing demand for our products.
SRI announced recently it plans to invest $122 million over three years to increase capacity for car, light truck and medium truck tires at its factory in Tonawanda, N.Y., as well as invest $102 million at factories in Thailand and Japan to update equipment there for increased production of tires for SUVs and light trucks, to support sales growth for these products in North America.
Can you provide an update on expansion at the N.Y. facility?
RS: Our expansion plans are proceeding on schedule. We have placed orders for additional building machinery that will allow us to more than double our capacity for passenger and light truck product lines.
This new machinery is expected to arrive some time in Q2 of 2022, and it will then take some time to get it fully operational. This will have a significant impact on our ability to better meet our customers' needs for light truck and CUV product lines.
Do you expect any supply difficulties in the second half of the year?
RB: We see the robust demand continuing into the second half of the year. As we struggle to meet the demand for MC, CUV/SUV and TBR, expansion of the Tonawanda factory is essential for our future ability to support our dealers. The planned investments will allow significant supply increases.
Of course, these expansions cannot happen overnight, but new machine orders have already been placed, and work is underway to provide the necessary factory space to install the new machines in New York, Thailand and Japan.
With these expansions we will be in a position to meet the increased demand for larger rim diameter CUV, large OD LT as well as TBR.