Expanding Reach: Kumho Aims High With First U.S. Manufacturing Plant - Tire Review Magazine

Expanding Reach: Kumho Aims High With First U.S. Manufacturing Plant

Kumho Aims High With First U.S. Manufacturing Plant

In May, more than 300 people attended the Kumho Tires groundbreaking ceremony for the tiremaker’s first production facility in the U.S., located in Bibb County, near Macon, Ga.

Storms and tornadoes the day before the ceremony did nothing to dampen the event, which included speeches from top Kumho executives and government officials, followed by a luncheon complete with a string quartet.

In addition, groundbreaking ceremony guests included Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Ken Stewart and Macon-Bibb County Chairman Charles Bishop. Also in attendance were Sam-Gu Park, chairman and CEO of Kumho Asiana Group, and Sae-chul Oh, president and CEO of Kumho Tires, who both made the trip from Kumho’s world headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.

Tire Review was the only industry publication in attendance.

The $165 million plant is slated for completion by September 2009, with production due to begin in December 2009. At 5.7 million square feet and located on 130 total acres, the facility will be Kumho’s sixth overseas manufacturing plant. The plant, which will produce 15- to 20-inch UHP tires, will feature state-of-the-art automated facilities that provide excellent quality control, the company said. With an initial capacity of 2.1 million tires annually for OE and replacement markets in the U.S., it is expected that the plant will provide more than 200 jobs when it opens, Kumho said.

“Establishing a production facility in the world’s biggest tire market will help Kumho respond faster to the needs of customers in the region, while also reinforcing our cost and price competitiveness,” Oh said. “We can now provide our efficient, high quality tires to U.S. consumers and an ever-growing number of major carmakers faster than ever.

“This plant will further strengthen Kumho Tires’ global network, better positioning us to achieve our goal of becoming one of the world’s top five tire companies by 2015,” he added.

With the completion of this new plant, the company will have a total of nine plants positioned around the world. Kumho has three plants in South Korea, four in China and one in Vietnam, which began operations in March of this year. The tiremaker plans to establish an additional radial truck/bus tire plant in Nanjing, China.

This year, Kumho’s production capacity outside of South Korea will reach 33 million tires, exceeding domestic production by 32 million tires. Its new plants in Nanjing and Georgia will increase its total production capacity to 77 million tires by 2009, boosting total overseas production to 60% of Kumho’s total capacity, the company said.

Because the U.S. tire market is currently the world’s largest, with 45.1 million high performance tires sold every year, it is an important part of Kumho’s strategic growth plans, the company said.
Roughly 35% of Kumho’s overseas sales come from the U.S. Sales of high performance tires have grown 53% since 2002, and these make up 23% of the entire U.S. tire market, of which Kumho holds a 6% market share.

Kumho said its new plant in Georgia and increased sales of its UHP tires will bring the company closer to its goal of becoming one of the world’s top tire companies in both sales and brand value.

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