By James T. Hammond
Published Nov. 25, 2013
Continental Tire’s plant east of Sumter started making tires to be sold to consumers in October, three months ahead of its January target date, according to plant manager Craig Baartman.
Craig Baartman, Continental’s plant manager in Sumter, shows off the first tire made in the plant.
The 1 million-square-foot plant on U.S. Route 521 is currently making about 100 passenger car and light-truck tires a day, as Continental ramps up and trains its workforce. When phase two of the plant is built and enters full production by 2021, the 500-acre manufacturing complex is expected to be turning out 8 million tires a year.
An intermediate goal for the plant is to boost production to about 5 million tires per year by 2017.
“I speak for all of our Sumter team when I say how thrilled we are to have reached this important milestone in our new plant and almost exactly two years from our initial announcement,” said Baartman.
Continental has committed to the state and to Sumter County that it will invest at least $500 million and employ at least 1,600 people by the time phase two is in full production. Currently, there are about 250 people working in the plant, and recruitment for increased production in the plant is ongoing.
Human Resources Manager David Ray said that current job openings can be viewed at readysc.org/conti.
“ReadySC has been instrumental to us in providing pre-hire training and assessment to well-qualified local candidates,” Ray said. “Their support has allowed us to successfully push toward our production goals.”
Completion of the 1 million-square-foot first phase of the tire manufacturing plant included 1 million man hours of construction work, 60,000 cubic yards of concrete and 30,000 tons of steel. Baartman said the 500-acre site has room for five expansions of the passenger tire plant plus the possible addition of a truck tire plant.