It is moot how much apart from the chassis is original, but it sits there unbowed by time and, nowadays, unbothered by the demands of production.
Kumho bought a newer Hennecke machine in 2009 and is full of praise for it. The company uses the Hennecke machine to supplement output from an older, 1995, Cannon Viking model.
Of the two lines currently employed for production, the Hennecke is used most. ‘Five years ago, we were still using the old Hennecke machine,’ Kim explained. ‘The new machine is good and has good control to make a good foam. Customers are demanding that.’
The Cannon Viking is old and the control is not quite as good as the new machine, he added, but it is still used regularly.
Business is harder today, as it is for many foamers, Kim explained. ‘Raw material prices are rising, but we can’t pass this on to the customers. They want lower prices at all times.’ To reduce the effect of higher isocyanate prices, customers want lower density, he added.
The company has doubtless weathered such storms in the many years since its foundation in 1957, when the Dong Sing company introduced flexible foam into Korea for the first time. This business was later purchased by Kumho Tyre, and subsequently was spun out, in May 1993, to the firm’s other President, JD Lee in a management buyout as it was a very small part of a relatively large tyre company.
Kumho Tire is currently the 14th largest tyre company in the world, with sales of $2.4bn in 2016, according to the World Tire Report from Tire Business.