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From Aiken County to the world: Bridgestone opens first U.S. mining tire manufacturing facility.

Extending its leadership in the heavy-duty, earthmoving tire segment, Bridgestone Americas opened its first giant off-road radial tire plant during November. Based in Aiken County, South Carolina, the 1.5 million-square-foot manufacturing facility produces various off-road radial tires for mining equipment, including ultra-class haul trucks. The new plant strengthens Bridgestone's ability to meet global demand for mining tires now and in the future.

About 400 people, including several mining executives, gathered to commemorate the grand opening. The Aiken County Plant Manager Ron Brooks emceed the ceremony, which included speeches from Kazuhisa Nishigai, COO, Bridgestone Corp., and Gary Garfield, president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas, along with other Bridgestone executives and regional dignitaries.

"Bridgestone has made significant investments in technology and training to ensure we are producing the world's leading off-road radial tires for the mining business 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."

This is a first; previously all of Bridgestone's large mining class tire were manufactured in Japan. In 2011, the company 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, Tennessee, and Saga, Japan. The opening of the Aiken County Off-Road Radial Tire Plant completes the largest portion of this planned investment.

"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 us the capacity to build these tires domestically and improve our supply systems globally," Garfield said. "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. The company also operates a passenger tire facility located nearby. "Aiken County is a special place for Bridgestone and we're delighted to see the company's newest chapter unfolding here," Brooks said. As he was introducing Nishigai, Brooks explained that it takes great leadership with strategic vision to make the right investments at the right time.

"The new Aiken plant will contribute significantly to our global business and to maintain our status as the leading tire supplier for the mining business," Nishigai said. "Producing tires is a highly technical business and none is more difficult to produce than mining-class off-road radial tires. We have made a significant investment in technology to ensure that we are producing the world's leading off-road mining tires here at the Aiken County facility. We expect the Aiken plant to make a very important contribution to customer satisfaction."

Expressing his gratitude for the support Bridgestone has received in the U.S., Nishigai said, "Now is the time to meet the new challenge for the mining business and let's do this together."
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Title Annotation:SUPPLIERS NEWS; Bridgestone Americas Inc.
Author:Fiscor, Steve
Publication:Coal Age (1996)
Date:Dec 1, 2014
Words:521
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