Kenda Touts New Products, Faster 'Cycle Time' at Event

May 9, 2022

Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. recently celebrated its 60th anniversary by hosting an open house at its North American Technical Center near Akron, Ohio.

The facility is one of four research and development centers that the manufacturer of passenger, light truck, bicycle and other tires operates worldwide. 

The others are located in Taiwan, Kenda’s native country; China; and Europe. (The company also has seven manufacturing plants, including one in Taiwan, one in Indonesia, two in Vietnam and three in China.)

Kenda has invested more than $20 million in its North American Technical Center, which opened in 2016. (Forty-six people work at the Akron location. Kenda employs 13,000 people globally.)

“Kenda is a global leader in tire development and manufacturing,” Jimmy Yang, chairman of Kenda Rubber Industrial, told guests during the open house event.

The company’s North American Technical Center has developed numerous products for the North American market, including the Klever M/T2 KR629, an off-road light truck tire that was unveiled last November during the 2021 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show.

The tire will be available this summer in 30 sizes, fitting wheels ranging from 15 inches to 22 inches in diameter, with additional sizes in the works.

The center also is developing a new lawn and garden tire for zero-turn mowers, which are gaining in popularity. “Kenda is really excited about the growth of this market space,” said Yang.

Faster cycle time

Kenda’s 2021 global sales totaled $1.25 billion. (Approximately 35% of Kenda’s revenue last year was generated by its North American operation.)

“Our cycle time on new products” has been significantly reduced, said Brandon Stotsenburg, vice president, automotive division, American Kenda Rubber Co. “On the PLT side, we’ve turned our product screen over completely in seven years."

He adds that "all of the new products in the second generation of our product screen were developed" at the North American tech center.

"These products constitute over 90% of our sales in North America."

During the event, Kenda also unveiled its new, digital E-University education portal, which will provide “self-paced” e-learning courses - accessible, when needed - for Kenda dealers. It will include a training library and will notify dealers when new content is available.

The goal “is to provide you with key information to make your job easier,” Stotsenburg told dealers in attendance.

The portal’s launch was followed by a tour of the facility. Guests met with Kenda research and development officials and observed various tire testing stations.

“We design our test centers to be responsible for the markets they’re in,” said Yang, who recently discussed Kenda's growth and how the company is responding to the supply chain crisis and other challenges with MTD Editor Mike Manges.

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.