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Pae stresses quality at Hankook dealer meeting

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Greg Pae, president of Hankook Tire America Corp., shared his company's goals and initiatives with tire dealers attending the 2007 "Dare to Compare" Dealer Meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., earlier today. Here are excerpts from his speech.

"On behalf of everyone at Hankook Tire, I am pleased to report to you that 2006 was another very successful year for our company. Despite the industry's sluggish performance in both original equipment and replacement tires sales in North America, Hankook achieved another record setting year, posting significant gains in tire sales and market share. Let me share some highlights of our success.

"We exceeded last year sales record in the United States by 22% for a total of $613 million. Together with $77 million in Canada, we exceeded $690 million in sales. And our worldwide sales were up as well, from $2.5 billion to $3.0 billion. That's a 17% increase over 2005.

"These achievements are the direct result of your efforts and I appreciate your supports very much.

"In 2007, our sales in the United States are forecasted to be $672 million and $3.6 billion worldwide, which will be again two-digit growth from previous year.

"Our commitment to this end is an ongoing investment in manufacturing and technology.

"We have a new factory coming on stream later on this year that will add five million units to our capacity. Plus there will be another five million units added to our existing factories. That will bring our total capacity to over 75 million units at the end of 2008. Wow!

"Building capacity and unit production is very important, but even more important is to build quality into your product to satisfy the ultimate consumer's needs.

"We're very confident in Hankook quality and believe it to be one of the highest quality products in the industry. I think everyone in this room will agree with me.

"This product quality is the reason that we've all enjoyed tremendous success over the past several years. It also has opened the door for original equipment supply to Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Audi, International Truck and others. These OE positions further validate our quality.

"While investment into product quality is the primary element for a successful business, there certainly are other areas that require major investment, such as research and development, production capacity expansion, distribution/delivery systems, aftermarket service, marketing and personnel. Hankook Tire is committed to continuously make major investments into all of these areas to improve our business.

"Many of you and your customers continue to acknowledge our efforts in building brand awareness through national print advertising, sports marketing and motorsports activities. These programs will be refined and expanded, and shortly you will learn about some exciting new marketing activities that are designed not only to increase Hankook brand awareness, but to 'Value Up' the Hankook brand. The benefits will be increased consumer demand for our tires and increased bottom-line profits for you.

"How will we achieve this? It begins with attitude… we are inviting you to 'dare to compare' Hankook with any other major brand available.

"We dare you to compare our products, our marketing programs and people. I want to assure you that we will be working hard every day to make selling more Hankook tires your easiest and best business decision in 2007.

"For us to achieve our corporate goals in 2007 and beyond, we must work in partnership with you our valued dealers to keep our momentum growing.

"We're very optimistic and excited about the future growth of our company and ask for your continued support.

"By the end of this meeting and over the next few days, I hope that you'll gain a better understanding of our plans and strategies for the future together."

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