NASHVILLE, Tenn.—For the time being, it's Lucky No. 7 for Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. The Seoul, South Korea-based company is the seventh largest tire maker worldwide and No. 7 in North America as well, based on reported sales revenue.
Business in North America, after the COVID-19 plunge in 2020, has rebounded strongly since, with sales up 13.6 percent in 2021 versus 2020 and up 22.5 percent in the quarter ended March 31.
As such, North America now accounts for 28.5 percent of Hankook's global sales, and company management—led by President Curtis Brison—intends to keep the trend moving in that direction by recruiting new dealers, solidifying relations with existing dealers and doubling the production potential of the firm's sole U.S. tire plant, in Clarksville, Tenn.
Brison, a former Michelin North America Inc. executive who was promoted to president of Hankook Tire America Corp., told Tire Business, a sister publication of Rubber News, in a recent interview that the company has lofty expectations in the region, based on the parent company’s commitment to a “local-for-local” supply strategy, a growing dealership base and consistent companywide efforts to be on the leading edge of technology.
One of the most visible examples of Hankook's commitment to North America is the company's decision in February 2021 to invest $85 million to more than double the annual capacity of its 5-year-old Clarksville plant to nearly 10 million passenger and light truck tires when the project is finished in late 2023 or early 2024.