Thirty percent of Cooper Tire and Rubber Co.'s income comes from products that have been introduced over just the past two years, said Roy Armes, the company's chairman, CEO and president, at a press conference announcing the development of Cooper's new Global Technical Center (GTC) at the company's headquarters in Findlay, Ohio.
Plus, the company has "revamped 75% to 80% of our products globally."
The new technical center will further "increase our speed to market" and ensure the company has the "right tools in the toolbox" to create what is needed to meet consumers' needs," said Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper's vice president, global research and development.
The GTC will support Cooper's North America Technical Center (NATC) as well as the company's Asia Technical Center in Kunshan, China, and its European Technical Center in Melksham, UK. Cooper also has its Tall Timbers Mold Facility, a full-service mold shop, in Findlay, and the 1,000-acre Cooper Tire & Vehicle Test Center in Pearsall, Texas. Cooper employs more than 13,000 people around the world.
Yurkovich said the company plans to hire 40 new workers with advanced degrees and from many different backgrounds to staff the new tech center. Those employees are expected to be in place by the end of the year.
Findlay was chosen as the location for the new tech center because of its rich history, support from state and local governments, close proximity to key suppliers and other reasons. "You add up the criteria, add up all the the benefits, and Findlay is the right choice," said Armes.
Plans for the new tech center started rolling last year, and Cooper received a $2.8 million Third Frontier Industrial Research and Development Center Program (IRDCP) grant from the State of Ohio. However, work was "put on pause," said Armes, while the company explored a merger with Apollo Tyres Ltd. That merger was terminated by Cooper last December.
Now that the plans are rolling again, the development of the tech center will help position Cooper to win more OE contracts, the company notes. Currently, the Ford Focus Titanium, and SE models feature Cooper tires as standard original equipment. The company also is looking forward to doing research with the NASA Glen Research Center in nearby Cleveland, Ohio.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.