NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Nokian Tyres Inc. management is expressing optimism about 2021 following favorable third-quarter financial results and the resumption of production at its year-old factory in Dayton, Tenn.
"I am a strong believer that people will be driving even more in the future," Tommi Heinonen, North American director of sales, said during a recent company podcast, "so they can stay safe in their nice, clean cars instead of going to airports. I expect that tire demand will be there—when people have been locked down, there's a need to travel again. Cars are the safest way to do it."
Heinonen, who's been involved in sales for North America since 2010, stressed that there have been "positive things going on" throughout 2020, including "a lot of creative ideas and new ways of doing business. When times are challenging, people will always find a way to do business."
After the industry—Nokian included—experienced a significant downturn in travel last spring, the company saw a recovery in certain markets. In North America, for example, Nokian reported 25 percent sales growth in the third quarter versus 2019, to $63.4 million, and the fourth quarter typically is one of the company's strongest due to its strong position in winter tires.
Revenue generated in North America for the nine months, however, was down 16.2 percent, reflecting the 51 percent drop in sales in the second quarter, when the company was forced to shut its recently opened U.S. plant for several weeks.
Nokian, like many other tire makers, was forced to get creative with customer relationships in 2020 in response to the pandemic and the business restrictions that came with it, Heinonen said.