BFNAT Plans to Close Oklahoma City Plant
(Akron/Tire Review) Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire (BFNAT) plans to close its single largest tyre plant by the end of this year. BFNAT has issued a required Notice of Potential Plant Closure with the United Steelworks (USW) regarding its Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, plant, and said that “global market forces have made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to restore the plant to a competitive position, even with significant new capital investment.”
At the same time, BFNAT claims that no final decision has been made regarding the future of the 37-year-old facility, and said it is willing to “enter into good faith negotiations with the union regarding the potential plant closure.”
According to industry information, the plant has the capacity to produce some 50,000 passenger and light truck/SUV tyres per day, and employs some 1,400 workers. The plant was built by the former Dayton Tire & Rubber Co., and was acquired by the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. when it purchased Dayton.
“In general, the tyre industry in the US is facing a number of serious economic issues,” said Steve Brooks, BFNAT’s vice president of manufacturing operations. “Significant among them is fierce competition from low-cost producing countries, which has made it very difficult for US-based production facilities to manufacture tyres at a profit.
“We have a difficult challenge in Oklahoma City,” Brooks said. “While competition is intense in all product segments, it is especially so at the low-end of the market, where demand is also shrinking. These are the types of tires the Oklahoma City plant is equipped to make. Even with substantial new capital investment, market forces make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Oklahoma City plant to be globally competitive.”
BFNAT’s master contract with the USW ends 23 July.