Superior Tire & Rubber Corp. has purchased nine acres and a 15 000-ft2 facility, which it will expand by 50 000-ft2, to significantly bolster its growing operation.
The property is located adjacent to Superior’s present complex in Warren, which houses its headquarters and manufacturing plant of 106 000-ft2, an auxiliary 750-ft2 office used for engineering and advertising personnel, and a 4000-ft2 auxiliary site used for assembly.
It will take up to a year for the designer and manufacturer of solid polyurethane and rubber industrial wear products to complete the addition to the new facility, president and ceo Hank LeMeur Jr said.
“Our move will take place in stages over the next 12 to 18 months,” he said. “Our current facilities will continue to be used at capacity.” Plans are also in place to add another 50 000-ft2 to the acquired plant in 2013 or later, if the company’s growth, which has been steady for several years, demands, LeMeur said.
Development laboratories will occupy part of the existing 15 000-ft2 building, along with sales, engineering and technical service staff.
Superior will move production from the firm’s present production complex to the new facility.
LeMeur said the company has made major purchases of urethane mixing equipment for three production lines, and acquired five CNC metal-working machines, “probably at prices we will never see again in our lifetime.” He said the firm will rearrange work cells between the facilities to optimise efficiency, adding that some of the new machinery is operating in the old factory. The investment for the purchase and expansion wasn’t disclosed.
“The additional room also allows us to add significant capabilities in producing assemblies and systems,” LeMeur said.
Examples of that are heavy duty shock absorbing assemblies for all types of industrial equipment and drive wheels, axles and idler wheel systems for agricultural, seismic and utility undercarriage equipment systems.
The manufacturer employs about 200 but “we expect our direct workforce to grow at historical levels, which is about 10 percent per year over the longer term,” he said, noting that it expects to add to its technical staff in 2010.
“Also, we have developed off-shore partners for certain specific rubber products. These products will always be supported by US production creating value for our OEM customers while ensuring absolute reliability of supply at minimal exchange rate risk.”
Superior’s operations personnel have done an excellent job over the past three years in implementing lean practices, LeMeur said. He expects the new plant will allow Superior to organise more work cells to improve accountability in production.
“Superior technical excellence has been the core of our company’s vision for the past 10 years and this new centre is a continuation of that vision.” He said the company has acquired and built a lot of laboratory, development and testing equipment over recent years. “Our new technical centre will allow us to consolidate this and add a customer training facility.” Despite the poor economy, Superior has been able to invest in the new plant because of its strong capital position, LeMeur said.
“When the great recession hit, sellers became more reasonable in their expectations and more urgent in their timing.
“Having survived the last 20 years in the rubber industry, we have learned to live with low pricing expectations. The good news was that we could recognise a good deal when we saw it.”