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Bridgestone/Firestone decides to close Oklahoma City plant

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Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) has announced it will definitely close its Oklahoma City, Okla., plant on or about Dec. 31, 2006.

The decision to close the plant was approved by BFNT's board of directors, plus the board of directors of its parent company, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc.

"This is a very difficult decision for everyone, especially since we’ve had such a great relationship with the Oklahoma City community for nearly 40 years," says Steve Brooks, vice president of manufacturing operations for BFNT.

"But the reality is this plant produces tires in the low-end segment of the market, where demand is shrinking and fierce competition from low-cost producing countries is increasing.

"Even with substantial new investment, global market forces make it virtually impossible to restore the plant to a competitive position and stem the huge losses."

The factory lost $40 million in 2005 and is on track to lose some $60 million this year, BFNT officials told moderntiredealer.com.

It will continue producing tires for several more months, but will cut production as the year winds down.

BFNT announced a potential plant closure in April.

"Terms of the closure will be negotiated with the United Steelworkers, and follow-up meetings with plant management are now being held to discuss next steps in the process.

"BFNT will work with the union as well as local and state officials to help address the impact on the Oklahoma City teammates, their families and the community."

According to Modern Tire Dealer research, the Oklahoma City plant can manufacture 42,500 passenger and 8,000 light truck tires per day at full capacity.

"The market is quickly running away from the products we produce in Oklahoma City," says Brooks.

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