Rising out of the rolling hills near West Point, Mississippi, is one of the most modern and efficient truck tire plants in the world. It’s the Yokohama Tire Mississippi Manufacturing facility. During the 10th anniversary celebration of its groundbreaking Oct. 12, Jeff Barna, president and CEO of Yokohama Tire, noted that what once was empty farmland is now a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with a commitment to building truck tires at the highest quality levels possible.
Award for Excellence
So successful has YTMM been over the past decade, Barna added, that its approximately 900 employees turn out 800,000 truck tires a year in the 1-million-square-foot plant. The facility has been honored with the Yokohama Tire President’s Award for excellence and has been ranked as the Number 1 most efficient Yokohama Tire plant anywhere in the world. After a record production year in 2022, it's on track to set a new production record in 2023.
“Both this plant and Yokohama Tire in general are on an upswing,” Barna said during a press briefing at YTMM’s 10th anniversary ceremony. “Currently, Yokohama Tire is ranked as the 8th largest tire producer in the world. But we think we have a lot of momentum behind us at the moment in terms of production here in Mississippi, and with our recent acquisition of Trelleborg in Sweden, we believe we’ll be in sixth or possibly fifth place next year.”
Key to the plant’s success, Barna added, has been Phillip Calhoun, YTMM plant manager and vice president of manufacturing. Calhoun, who has a long track record in automotive manufacturing, was recruited by Barna specifically to change the culture at YTMM and transform it into the top-tier manufacturing facility it is today.
“Our facility is one of the newest and most modern Yokohama plants in the world,” Calhoun said. “It is also one of the most highly automated tire plants you’ll see anywhere.”
Calhoun said the massive plant runs 27/7 with four rotating shifts. Automation levels in the plant are such that each shift consists of only about 150 workers. “We’re easily building 800,000 truck tires a year,” he added, "and can add capacity if we need to.”
There is certainly room for additional growth in West Point. Calhoun noted that the original site plans included room for two additional manufacturing wings — each as big as the current YTMM plant.
“So, if this plant keeps performing at a high level, and additional economic opportunities present themselves, we’ll be in a position to add a lot more production capacity for both truck and bus, and passenger cars.”