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Cooper turns to China for truck tires

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has signed a deal with Hangzhou (China) Rubber Co. Ltd. to source 250,000 to 300,000 radial medium truck tires from the Chinese tiremaker annually.

"Tire molds and other related equipment are in the process of being transferred from the Albany, Ga., facility where all of Cooper's existing radial medium truck tires are being produced," say Cooper officials.

The decision to import radial medium truck tires from China "is Cooper's first visible step in the implementation of our strategy to augment our United States production with tires produced in Asia," says Dick Stephens, president of Cooper's Tire Group.

"In the (radial medium truck tire) area this will allow us to expand our current offering without significant capital outlay.

"We can then realign our Albany resources to produce performance tires, specialty light truck (tires) and other segments, which are in high demand."

Cooper's Albany plant manufactures nearly 25,000 tires per day, according to Cooper officials -- 1,200 of which are medium radial truck units.

The facility has the capacity to manufacture 27,300 tires a day overall, according to Modern Tire Dealer research.

Earlier this year, Cooper Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo told investors that the Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker would be looking to Asia for production.

"How much production we secure in Asia depends on the success of our efforts in the U.S. to make tires at the quality our customers demand at a cost which keeps us competitive in the marketplace," says Stephens.

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