Extending its leadership in the heavy-duty, earthmoving tire segment, Bridgestone Americas has announced the opening of its first giant off-road radial tire plant. Based in Aiken County, SC, the 1.5 million-square-foot manufacturing facility produces various off-road radial tire products used to equip heavy haul trucks in mining and aggregates applications. A leader in off-road radial tire technology, the new off-road radial tire plant strengthens Bridgestone's ability to meet the needs of its global customer base in this key segment.
Kazuhisa Nishigai, COO and Board Member of Bridgestone Corporation, and Gary Garfield, President and CEO of Bridgestone Americas, were joined at a grand opening ceremony by South Carolina State Senator Nikki Setzler; South Carolina State Representative Bill Clyburn; South Carolina State Representative Bill Hixon; South Carolina State Representative Bill Taylor; Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young; and Aiken, Edgefield and Saluda Counties Economic Development Partnership President & CEO Will Williams.
"Bridgestone has made significant investments in technology and training to ensure we are producing the world's leading off road radial tires in North America," said Nishigai. "We remain highly committed to our mining customers around the globe and will continue to make the right investments for this important segment of our business."
In 2011, Bridgestone announced a planned $970 million investment to build the company's first U.S.-based off road radial tire plant, as well as expand production capacity at Bridgestone's steel cord manufacturing facilities in Clarksville, TN, and Saga, Japan. The opening of Bridgestone's new Aiken County Off Road Radial Tire Plant completes the largest portion of this planned investment. The Clarksville and Saga locations are suppliers of the Aiken County Off Road Radial Tire Plant, as steel cord is a key component used to build large and ultra-large off-road radial tires.
"Engineering large and ultra-large mining tires is a highly technical process, and Bridgestone has a long tradition of being a leader in bringing these tires to market. The opening of a new off road radial tire plant in South Carolina is a strategic business decision that will give Bridgestone the capacity to build these tires domestically and improve our supply systems globally," continued Garfield. "Long term, the mining segment will grow, and we are now better-positioned to respond more quickly, efficiently and reliably to the needs of our customers."
Bridgestone's Off Road Radial Tire Plant is the second tire manufacturing plant Bridgestone has built in Aiken County, SC. The company has operated a passenger tire facility in Graniteville since 1998. Approximately 350 people now work at the new Aiken County Off Road Radial Tire Plant, and Bridgestone expects to create an additional 200 positions when the location reaches full production in the next two to three years. At present, there are approximately 2,000 people working at Bridgestone's two tire plants in Aiken County.
"South Carolina and Bridgestone have a long and successful history of working together, and we are excited to celebrate this next chapter in our growing partnership," said Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina. "Bridgestone is a great South Carolina company, employing thousands of our citizens and playing an active and positive role in their local community. We look forward to seeing the new ORR plant reach full production and bring even more jobs to Aiken County."
The new Aiken County Off Road Radial Tire Plant was constructed with many sustainable features and materials in alignment with Bridgestone's global commitment to the environment. The plant is built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver construction specifications. In addition, sustainable and advanced technologies from Firestone Building Products, a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, were used throughout the facility. The new plant relies on UltraPly TPO roofing, ISO 95+ insulation, UnaFoam Insulated Metal Wall Panels, pavers and geomembrane for retention ponds and water harvesting areas.