Kumho Tire Co. celebrated the opening of its first U.S. production facility in Macon, Ga., on May 2.
The celebration included a ribbon cutting, plant tours and a tree planting ceremony. Several local, state and federal officials, as well as Kumho executives, were on hand for the ceremony.
“North America is home to one of the world’s largest auto and tire markets. We believed a production base on this crucial continent is a must if we are to significantly expand our presence in the market in our bid to become a top tire manufacturer,” said Park Sam-gu, chairman of Kumho Asiana Group.
“Along with this state-of-the-art facility, Kumho will put into place an advanced management system for day-to-day operations so that all employees can be proud of their company,” Park shared.
Sitting on 5.7 million square feet of land, the Macon facility has an annual capacity of 4 million tires and Kumho has plans to raise the capacity to 10 million, the tiremaker said. The site will produce 17-inch or larger tires for passenger vehicles, with roughly 80% of the tires being used as original equipment by global automakers in North America such as Hyundai, Kia and Chrysler.
With roughly 365 employees, the facility is considered a “smart” plant and is highly automated. The plant is equipped with a proprietary system called the Automated Production Unit (APU) to help boost manufacturing efficiency and a new lot tracking system (LTS) using radio frequency identification (RFID) combined with laser guided vehicles (LGVs).
Construction on the $450 million facility started in May 2008, but was suspended due to fallout from the global financial crisis. In 2014, construction resumed and the facility was completed in early 2016.
Macon is the tiremaker’s third overseas production base. Kumho also operates plants in China and Vietnam, as well as Korea.