Bridgestone APM Co. has begun construction of its fourth U.S. plant at a site that it said will allow it to serve its Japanese automotive customers better.
The anti-vibration parts maker plans to invest $11 million in the 150,000-square-foot factory in Dickson, Tenn., that will produce urethane seat foam and urethane foam energy absorbing pads.
Construction should be complete by March 2004, with production beginning by the middle of next year. The firm initially will employ 70. By 2006, Bridgestone APM expects to increase its staff by 100.
The location is close to Honda of America Manufacturing Inc., Toyota Motor North America Inc. and Nissan North America Inc., said Bridgestone APM President Natsuki Fujii. He also noted there is a good industrial work force in the Dickson area, which is about 30 miles west of Nashville.
The Bridgestone Corp. subsidiary will rely on its sister company, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. in Nashville, for public affairs, human resources and legal support, Fujii said.
He declined to discuss any incentives the company received from the city, county and state. Local news reports said the Dickson County Commission approved an undisclosed sum for engineering work to get sewer, water and gas lines to the Dickson County Industrial Park, where the plant will be built.
Bridgestone APM began producing urethane foam products five years ago. Rising transportation costs for getting the finished parts to its customers in the South led it to begin the search for a new plant site, Fujii said.
The manufacturer is based in Findlay, Ohio, and operates two factories in Sandusky, Ohio. It employs 720 and posted 2002 sales of $115 million.
Within the next few years, Fujii expects the company's foam products sales to reach $50 million from their current level of $35 million.
Anti-vibration sales will increase to about $100 million from $80 million during the same time period.
Its main competitors continue to be other Japanese transplant vibration-control parts makers, rather than North American companies, Fujii said. Competitors include manufacturers such as DTR Industries Inc. and Yusa Corp., whose parent companies handle design.
``Honda and Toyota are developing in Japan, and it's very hard to get involved in development from the U.S.,'' Fujii said.
Although some of the Japanese vehicle component design is done in the United States, ``anti-vibration is such a main issue that it's decided by the Japan side,'' Fujii said.