Bridgestone Americas Plans $164 Million Expansion in Wilson

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Bridgestone Americas Plans $164 Million Expansion in Wilson

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations will invest $164 million and expand the Wilson plant with 167,000 square feet of new manufacturing space by 2018.

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations will invest $164 million and expand the Wilson plant with 167,000 square feet of new manufacturing space by 2018.

The Tuesday announcement is the largest for the area since 2009 when BD Rx announced a $120 million investment in a new plant in Wilson. Bridgestone also decided in 2006 to invest $350 million over 10 years in new equipment, said Jennifer Lantz, Wilson Economic Development Council director.

The Bridgestone expansion is notable for Wilson, and further secures its presence in the county, said Michael Darr, Wilson Bridgestone plant manager. Bridgestone is Wilson County’s largest industrial employer with 2,100 employees and contract workers.

“This is really an exciting day for Bridgestone in Wilson,” Darr said. “Wilson’s fortunate enough that we’re a great match for what the market needs so we we’re able to make this investment. It’s definitely a positive sign. It’s a great signal for the long-term security of a major employer in Wilson County.”

The expansion involves a five-year plan, with the greatest investment during phase one and two that involves a $100 million investment in the new manufacturing space that will accommodate new tire assembly machines, materials handling systems, curing presses and associated equipment. The equipment and space will boost the plant’s daily tire production from 35,000 to 38,000 tires by 2018. The new equipment will also allow the plant to respond to the global demand for higher rim sizes, as well as improve quality and productivity while reducing costs.

A ground breaking ceremony is planned within the next 60 days and construction will take place near the north wall of the plant in 2016. The addition of new equipment will take place during 2017, Darr said.

The multi-phase expansion of the 42-year-old plant is an effort to meet market demands through the investment in newer, more efficient technology. The project will not lead to the addition of new jobs but result in more efficient tire production, Darr said.

“By the end of five years, there will be no net increase in team members,” Darr said. “Our production and manufacturing capabilities must evolve with our products to meet the changing needs of today’s consumers. Our investment in updated equipment and improved manufacturing processes and facilities reflects our focus on maintaining our global competitiveness, as well as our commitment to the Wilson community.”

A local incentive package will be offered to Bridgestone and be considered by the Wilson County commissioners in February and March, Lantz said. Details of the incentives should be prepared within the next two months.

“There will be incentives that will be considered,” Lantz said. “We’re thrilled that Bridgestone has decided to make the expansion in Wilson. They were considering sites overseas.”

The expansion has been under consideration for the past year, and no state incentives have been announced as part of the deal. No city incentives are planned, since the plant is located in Wilson County, Lantz said. The facility receives some city services, including electric and water.

“Bridgestone is a valuable part of Wilson County,” said Denise Stinagle, Wilson County manager. “Today’s news shows that Bridgestone recognizes the commitment and dedication of our county’s workforce. This investment places Wilson County in a great position to compete globally and to continue to have leading technology.  

“We have been Bridgestone’s home for 42 years, and we look forward to a long and successful future with them.”

The Bridgestone plant in Wilson is a nationally recognized facility and one of the company’s most environmentally sustainable properties, company officials said. The expansion is the largest since 2009 when 85,000 square feet were added to the plant.

The passenger tire manufacturing facility is Bridgestone’s first to produce run-flat tires. In 2016, employees will start making DriveGuard tires, the company’s first full line of premium, all season replacement tires engineered to go up to 50 miles to safety after a puncture.

The Wilson plant has received numerous safety awards, including marking its safest years in history in 2012 and 2013. The plant has been recognized as a Rising Star facility by the N.C. Department of Labor, received three Green Factory Environmental Achievement recognitions by Honda, was the first tire plant to earn ISO 50001 certification and Superior Energy Performance Mature Pathway certification, and the first plant in the world to achieve the Underwriters Laboratories’ landfill waste diversion claim validation for Zero Waste to Landfill. 

Source: The Wilson Times