The Bridgestone Off-Road Tire plant in Normal is nearly finished with a $12 million renovation.
Manager Monty Greutman said the plant plans to expand production of larger off-road tire sizes that are currently made in Japan. He said new equipment is still being installed and tested, with plans to be fully functional by the end of the year.
“This investment gives us the opportunity to make larger radial (tires) and it just makes the Bloomington plant more appealing when it comes to the number of sizes that we can offer to the customer,” Greutman said.
Greutman said Caterpillar, John Deere and Komatsu are among Bridgestone's largest customers. He said expanding tire offerings at the plant in Normal enables it to supply its North American customers at lower cost.
“Everything else would come in from some of our plants in Japan. So with Bloomington having the capability of increasing our sizes, that’s fewer tires we are bringing in from Japan.”
Bridgestone currently only makes those larger tires at its plant in Aiken, South Carolina.
Greutman said U.S. trade wars haven't hurt business, but any reductions in mining globally could cause a strain.
“Depending on what they do in Washington and what party gets elected could have an impact on mining because some of our stuff is tied to mining, coal and that kind of thing, but currently we’ve not seen any impact at all.”
Greutman said Bridgestone has surpassed initial estimates of hiring 30 additional employees. He says the plant is approaching 500 workers now.
Greutman said the company hasn’t had a problem finding qualified workers for the plant in Normal. He said the company offers a starting salary in the $18 per-hour range.
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