Bridgestone Americas Celebrates Groundbreaking of Wilson Passenger Tire Manufacturing Plant Expansion

Five-year, $164 million investment to help meet market demands and increase capacity

Mar 09, 2016, 11:34 ET from Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations

NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (Bridgestone) celebrated the expansion of the company's passenger tire manufacturing facility in Wilson, North Carolina, with an official groundbreaking ceremony today. The five-year, $164 million investment to expand the 42-year-old, nationally recognized facility, which is one of the company's most environmentally sustainable plants, will improve the plant's global competitive position by installing leading edge technology, expanding production capacity and lowering costs.

"Today is a momentous day for all of us at the Wilson plant and across Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, as we break ground on this important expansion that will allow us to grow our production and manufacturing capabilities to meet the changing needs of our customers," said Michael Darr, Plant Manager, Wilson Plant. "We'd like to thank the Wilson community for its support over the last 42 years, and we're excited to begin this next chapter in our plant's history."

Darr was joined at the event by several Bridgestone leaders, including Christine Karbowiak, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Risk Officer and Executive Vice President, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.; Barry Owens, Vice President, Manufacturing; TJ Higgins, President, Integrated Consumer Tire Division, U.S.  & Canada; and Mike Martini, President, Original Equipment, U.S. and Canada Consumer Tire Sales Division. Also in attendance at the event were North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and City of Wilson Mayor C. Bruce Rose.

Phases one and two of the investment, which will total nearly $100 million, will focus on the addition of 167,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate new tire assembly machines, materials handling systems, curing presses and associated equipment to increase plant capacity by 3,000 tires per day, bringing daily production to 35,000 by 2018. The new equipment also will allow the plant to respond to the increase in global demand for higher rim size tires, as well as improve quality and productivity while reducing costs.

The Wilson plant has been a leader in tire manufacturing innovation during its 42- year history, and currently manufactures 32,000 passenger tires a day. It was the first Bridgestone tire manufacturing facility to produce run-flat tires, and this year will begin producing the company's DriveGuard tires, the first full line of premium, all season replacement tires engineered to go up to 50 miles to safety after a puncture.*

The county's single largest industrial employer, the plant last underwent an expansion in 1999, when it added 85,000 square feet to the facility. The plant team has achieved numerous safety awards, including marking the safest year in its 42 years of operations in 2012 – a record it broke in 2013 – and certification earlier this year as a Rising Star facility from the North Carolina Department of Labor. The plant also has received recognition for its environmental efforts, including three Green Factory Environmental Achievement Recognitions at Honda's 22nd annual Environmental, Safety and Ergonomics Symposium in 2014. In addition, it was the first tire plant to earn ISO 50001 certification, reach Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Mature Pathway certification and the first plant in the world to achieve Underwriters Laboratories' (UL) landfill waste diversion claim validation for Zero Waste to Landfill.

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*At a maximum speed of 50 mph. Reparability depends on the tire damage, amount of pressure loss and vehicle operating conditions.

About Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations:

Nashville, Tennessee-based Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) is a business unit of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., whose parent company, Bridgestone Corporation, is the world's largest tire and rubber company. Reporting into the BATO business unit are the company's Latin American tire operations; the U.S. and Canadian consumer tire businesses; the U.S. and Canadian commercial tire businesses; and Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, which operates the largest network of company-owned automotive service providers in the world. BATO develops, manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires. The business unit is focused on retail, wholesale and original equipment markets, supplying passenger, light truck, commercial vehicle, off road, motorcycle, agricultural and other tires, as well as retreads, to its customers in the Americas.

SOURCE Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations