By Liz Segrist
Published Jan. 24, 2013
Greenville-based Michelin North America announced Thursday a $200 million expansion of its Starr manufacturing plant to increase the rubber supply for tire production in North America.
The rubber compound material produced in Anderson County will be used for all different types and sizes of Michelin’s tires, of which demand has been steadily increasing in North America, said Pete Selleck, Michelin North America chairman and president.
The investment is expected to create more than 100 jobs. Over the past 21 months, Michelin has announced $1.15 billion in investments in South Carolina, creating 870 manufacturing jobs in the state.
“A job in manufacturing will have the spillover effect of five to seven additional jobs created in those communities,” Selleck said.
Construction on the Starr plant expansion, which will be adjacent to the current facility at 1 Bib Way in Anderson, is underway. Production of the rubber mixture is expected to begin in 2014, said Rich Kornacki, executive vice president of Michelin North America and head of the specialty product lines.
Nearby the ongoing expansion, construction continues for Michelin’s earthmover tire plant in Anderson. Construction is on schedule and the plant is expected to begin producing the massive earthmover tires before the end of the year, Selleck said.
Michelin announced in April plans to invest $750 million and employ 500 people between its Lexington and Anderson counties’ facilities to meet the growing demand for its earthmover tires.
Expansion in Greenville too?
In December, Greenville County Council approved an incentive plan for Michelin to expand there. Selleck said the company does not have an announcement to make for Greenville County at this time. Selleck said the company continuously works with the local government of the counties in which it operates to see the framework for incentives.
“We are constantly going to the communities in which we operate to see the framework for incentives,” Selleck said. “There are other things we’re thinking about in the future. There are many things we’re thinking about. We have a strategy and a vision. We are always looking for opportunities.”
Michelin is making investments in modernizing existing equipment and facilities within Spartanburg and Greenville counties.
Michelin North America Chairman and President Pete Selleck at Thursday’s announcement. (Photo/Liz Segrist)
“Most of our growth today is in emerging markets,” Selleck said. “Our group is investing at its highest level in history and what’s remarkable is that our financial performance is such, that even with all of the investment, we still have positive cash flow.”
For the Starr plant expansion, Michelin seeks production workers and maintenance technicians and engineers. The new jobs are hourly. The hourly wage was not disclosed.
The 12-year-old Starr facility is one of Michelin’s two semi-finished rubber production plants in Anderson County. The company’s largest rubber-producing plant in the world is a few miles away in Sandy Springs, built in 1975 as one of Michelin’s first U.S. manufacturing facilities.
Michelin officials attributed Anderson County’s infrastructure, electricity, incentives, local government, Tri-County Technical College and especially the skilled workforce as the reasons for continually attracting Michelin investment into the county.
“This facility produces the quality rubber compound used in Michelin’s tires, and its ability to meet the strong demand for our products is critically important,” Kornacki said. “We are proud to place yet another one of Michelin’s key plants in Anderson County, an area that has been great for our business.”
Michelin has 14 S.C. locations and currently employs more than 8,000 statewide. It has 24 U.S. facilities, according to the company.
Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy duty trucks and motorcycles.