The Tire Industry Is On A Southern Building Boom

Say Akron, Ohio, and the first thought that still comes to mind for a lot of people is “tires.” But the latest news in the tire making world comes from South Carolina. 

Michelin, the French tire maker, will launch construction next week in Anderson County, S.C., on its first new North American tire plant in 15 years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The plant will make those heavy duty tires used on mining and road building equipment.

Michelin also is expanding a nearby plant in Lexington, S.C., which produces tires for earthmoving equipment.

That’s not all. Two other tire makers — Bridgestone and Continental — also have announced new ventures in South Carolina. All the projects could end up helping Midwest companies. How?

A big reason for the growth is the global expansion of construction projects, which is benefitting Midwest companies such as Caterpillar. (Hear Niala Boodhoo’s report on the outlook for Midwest manufacturing.)

“We are constantly hearing from our customers ‘We need more tires, we need more tires,” Michelin North America Chairman and President Pete Selleck said in an interview with the Journal. “These are very large pieces of equipment and the supply of tires determines their capacity.”

According to the Journal, Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, has been investing heavily in production capacity in a bid to extend its market-leading position around the world, especially in countries such as China.

The Illinois  company expects 2012 sales to be in a range of $68 billion to $72 billion, up from a record $60.1 billion in 2011.

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