Giti started building its $560 million car and light truck tire plant in Richburg, South Carolina, last year. The factory is expected to create 1,700 jobs over the next 10 years, according to Giti.
The 1.8 million-sq.-ft. plant and distribution centre initially will have an annual capacity of 5 million tires for both replacement and OE customers. The factory will be engineered to allow for additional capacity to fill future market demand, the company said.
“Once we have the plant here up and running, the OEMs will be more interested in working with us, too, because it's a shorter supply chain for them. There are a lot of advantages for the OEMs to work with us here in North America, so we are building those relationships with the OEMs and I think they will be interested in working with us more and more...We have designed the new plant with the needs of the OEM in mind,” Aboutorabi said.
Akron provides prime spot
He said the R&D's location near Akron, a tire industry hub for R&D centres, equipment manufacturers and materials suppliers, has provided advantages for Giti.
“We have access to all the expertise in the tire industry here, from materials to engineering, from manufacturing to equipment and testing. Everything is here. It has been really beneficial to us. We couldn't have ramped up as quickly as we did if we were not located in Akron,” he said.
He noted that Giti is a charter member of the Blacksburg, Va.-based Centre for Tire Research (CenTiRe), an industry-university consortium involving the University of Akron, Virginia Tech and an assortment of tire manufacturers, materials suppliers, and modelling and testing companies.
The goal is for the colleges to research and develop new technologies to help the tire industry and advance tire development.
He called the pre-competitive research organisation a long-term benefit for the company. The programme also helps train students who will be seeking careers in the industry and eventually contributing to the advancement of tire design.