By Liz Segrist
Published April 10, 2012
Greenville-based Michelin North America said today it will hire 500 people and invest $750 million in Anderson and Lexington counties to meet growing demand for the massive tires used on earth-moving equipment.
Michelin already employs about 900 people at two rubber-processing facilities in Anderson County — one in Starr and one in Sandy Springs. Michelin plans to construct another plant adjacent to its Starr plant to build Earthmover tires.
The first tire will be made in the new Anderson County plant late next year and production will aggressively ramp up in 2014 and 2015. Construction expected at 1 Bib Way in Anderson will begin immediately. The facility’s estimated square footage is unknown at this time.
In Lexington County, Michelin already employs more than 1,800 people at facilities that manufacture passenger and light-truck tires, as well as tires for heavy equipment like Earthmovers.
Last May, Michelin announced a $200 million expansion project that would add 270 jobs to boost production of passenger and light-truck tires.
The Earthmover tire operation in Lexington County currently employs 530 people in an 825,000-square-foot facility. The expansion and installation of equipment will begin immediately to produce Earthmover tires. Production is set to begin in October at 2400 Two Notch Road in Lexington.
“Nearly every Earthmover tire is sold before it is produced,” Selleck said. “Michelin is one of very few companies in the world that is able to produce these high technology tires.”
Hiring will begin immediately for both locations. Training will be at the Lexington facilities.
“It takes a long time to train our people, particularly our technical people,” Selleck said. “We are hiring engineers, and also people with technical school degrees in mechanical or electrical fields so they can basically install, set-up and maintain the equipment.”
These Earthmover tires will be shipped worldwide. Thirty percent of them will go to the oil centers in Canada and 50% aim to be shipped through Eastern ports to every continent.
Company and government officials stressed the importance of deepening the Port of Charleston to handle the anticipated larger vessels post-Panama Canal expansion in 2014. Selleck said manufacturers with a major exporting base depend on the port, especially as Michelin ramps up Earthmover tire production from 2014 to 2016.
“The biggest concern we have is that half of these tires are going through ports,” Selleck said. “We would like for them to go through the Port of Charleston because that’s obviously the closest place for us to go.”
Anderson County Council in February approved an incentive agreement with Michelin, formerly known as “Project Cougar,” aimed at luring 125 jobs, possibly more, and a $550 million investment from the tire maker. Lexington County Council approved April 4 a long-term fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Michelin.
Haley said this announcement, coupled with previous Michelin expansions in South Carolina, can help recruit other companies to the state
“Michelin was the first major company that saw in South Carolina what others had not seen before,” Graham said of the company opening its first facility in 1973.
Michelin has eight S.C. facilities and currently employs more than 8,000 statewide. Following the construction of the Anderson plant, it will have nine S.C. facilities and 19 North American facilities. Tire production figures are not made available to the public.
Michelin currently produces Earthmover tires in Lexington; Waterville, Canada; Campo Grande, Brazil; Le Puy and Montceau-les-Mines, France; Vitoria, Spain; and Zalau, Romania.