Nokian Tyres Prepares for Growth in Tennessee

After a “Pivotal Year,” Nokian Tyres Pursues Another Step Forward

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Nokian Tyres' festive October grand opening event attended by Tennessee’s governor, state and local leaders, dozens of customers, and hundreds of community members. (Nokian Tyres)

The premium tire company is prepared to grow its new factory, product mix and customer base thanks to the strides it made in 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One year ago, Nokian Tyres was laying the foundation for its growth in North America – literally. Its new factory in the region was little more than a concrete slab, an empty cornerstone brimming with potential.

Over the last 365 days, the premium tire company has built upon that foundation. The new production facility in Dayton, Tennessee is open and nearing the end of trial production. The company is offering innovative new products that provide North American drivers with peace of mind on the road. And a vibrant, growing employee base is advancing the company’s values of safety and sustainability in lockstep with dealers and consumers.

Thanks to those advancements, Nokian Tyres stands poised to continue climbing toward its goal of doubling sales in North America between 2018 and 2023.

“2019 was a pivotal year for us, from the opening of our Dayton factory to the introduction of new products and programs that will fuel our growth in the years ahead,” said Nokian Tyres Senior Vice President, Americas Mark Earl.

The birth of a factory

Nokian Tyres plans to begin producing tires for commercial sale at its Tennessee factory in January, following a five-month trial production process that began when the facility produced its first test tire on July 1. The company plans to use the enhanced production volume to fill accelerating demand for its premium products in the region.

When the inventor of the winter tire announced its intention to build a factory in the Southeastern United States, the industry turned a curious eye. How would the Northernmost tire factory in the world thrive in virtually uncharted territory?

The answer: by applying its traditional life-driven mission in its new home.

“We are committed to being the employer of choice in Southeast Tennessee by providing our employees with the skills, technology and support they need to succeed,” said Dayton Factory Operations Director Peter Chia. “Through a vibrant culture, this factory will embody our company’s ideals of entrepreneurship, inventiveness and team spirit.”

The company celebrated the factory’s progress at a festive October grand opening event attended by Tennessee’s governor, state and local leaders, dozens of customers, and hundreds of community members.

The milestone was the result of years of planning and months of recruiting and training. In 2019, the factory’s employee base grew from a skeleton leadership team to more than 100 team members, many of whom immersed themselves in six weeks of intensive training at the company’s facilities in Russia and Finland.

Now, Nokian Tyres is ready to leverage the factory, which is one of the most advanced in the world, to enhance its presence in North America. By 2023, the facility will have the capacity to produce as many as four million tires per year and employ up to 400 workers. In addition to serving growing demand, the factory will enable Nokian Tyres to shorten delivery lead times to its growing customer base and adapt its product mix to meet the needs of North American drivers.

The factory is also a vehicle for the company to advance its core values of safety and sustainability. Launch team members performed approximately 1,200 combined hours of community service in their first month of employment, and the company recently announced the Nokian Tyres Road to Sustainable Success, an initiative that supports education and sustainability in Southeast Tennessee.

“The North American factory provides a premium relationship with our customers by making safe, sustainable products that are tailored to the needs of North American consumers,” said Nokian Tyres CEO Hille Korhonen.

Producing progress

Nokian Tyres introduced three such products in 2019 and plans to deepen its tire lineup in 2020.

The company launched the Nokian ONE HT in tandem with the grand opening of its factory. There’s a reason for that: The new light truck product is the first of a line of new all-season products that will help Nokian Tyres take aim at the North American all-season market, a primary reason it built a factory in the region. It’s the first of several innovative tires the company plans to introduce in the coming years.

The Nokian ONE HT leverages the company’s tradition of market-leading innovation to provide strength and comfort on North American roads. It will be exclusively sold in North America and becomes available to drivers in January.

“Our growth strategy starts with our product mix,” Earl said. “The Nokian ONE HT represents our enhanced efforts to give North American drivers what they need: in this case, a rugged, premium light-truck tire our dealers will enjoy selling.”

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT3 builds on the impeccable reputation of the company’s renowned flagship winter product line, offering a durable, versatile and eco-friendly tire crafted to meet the rigors of winter work. Nokian Tyres introduced the product at a Colorado launch event in January and drew rave reviews for its innovation.

“When pushed hard, the LT3 exhibits great composure at the limit and excellent snow traction, thanks to its deep grooves and aggressive tread pattern,” said Car & Driver’s Max Mortimer.

Nokian Tyres also gave special attention to the all-weather product segment, which it invented nearly two decades ago. In February it made the Nokian WR G4 SUV available to consumers – the latest generation of a winter-approved product designed for year-round use.

Doubling down on growth

All roads lead to long-term growth for Nokian Tyres. An expanding product mix, a thriving employee base and a state-of-the-art North American factory aim to deliver progress toward the objective the company set in 2018 to double sales in the region by 2023.

“The goals we have set are ambitious, but we have dedicated partners who are asking us to give them more,” said Earl. “If we just listen to our partners and try to do what they are asking us to do, we will reach our targets.”

That means introducing more people to the company’s premium products and life-driven mission. Nokian Tyres plans to unveil new products in the coming years and is finding new ways to tell its story, from sponsorships such as the Beaver Creek Ski World Cup event and a refreshed relationship with POWDR Resorts to a dynamic social media presence aimed at engaging drivers.

The company will also deepen its relationships with dealers in 2020. In addition to providing them with new products to sell, Nokian Tyres is employing innovative digital solutions to attract drivers to their shops and growing the team at its Nashville headquarters office.

It all points to one reality: Nokian Tyres’ journey in North America is about to become even more beautiful.

“We’re grateful for the drivers, customers, team members and community partners who have gotten us to this point,” Earl said. “We’re eager to continue on this beautiful journey together.”

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