Cooper will invest $32 million in plants to increase production

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will invest $32.1 million into three of its four United States tire manufacturing plants that will boost the facilities' total production capacity to more than 2.4 million units.

The infusion will include the purchase of new tire building machines and presses and will add 116 manufacturing employees.

Cooper's Albany, Ga., plant will receive $19.4 million in the form of 16 new presses, four tire building machines and other equipment that will result in additional production capabilities of nearly 1.4 million units on an annual basis.

"The investment is part of Cooper's continuing transformation to LEAN manufacturing cell concepts which yield higher levels of output and reduces waste," say Cooper officials.

Albany will get 56 new employees, "or about half the number required under traditional manufacturing methods," according to Bill Woeste, Cooper vice president of manufacturing.

Last October, Cooper announced an outsourcing agreement with Chinese tiremaker Hangzhou that will see the Asian company manufacture Cooper radial medium truck tires.

Cooper's Texarkana, Ark., plant will receive $5.2 million in eight new presses, extra tire building machinery and cell modificiation changes that will result in an additional capacity of 560,000 tires each year.

The equipment will allow the facility to make larger diameter ultra-high performance tires.

Texarkana will hire 25 workers as part of the upgrade.

Cooper's Tupelo, Miss., factory will benefit from a $7.5 million investment resulting in six presses being added for an extra 511,000 units annually.

"Thirty-five new employees will be required to support increased production volume."

Cooper's fourth U.S. plant is located in its hometown of Findlay, Ohio.

Cooper officials have not said if the Findlay facility will receive an infusion of money.

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