One of the Chattanooga area's biggest manufacturers is on pace to add 100 jobs over the next couple of years as the company rolls out about 1 million tires in 2021.
"Demand has been really impressive for our production in North America," said Wes Boling, marketing communications manager for Nokian Tyres' sprawling factory in Dayton, Tennessee.
He said Finland-based Nokian could hit 425 jobs in Dayton in 2023. The company originally projected it would hire about 400 people by the end of 2023 when the $360 million plant began operations about two years ago.
The company's Nokian Tyres One model, introduced early this year and aimed at passenger cars, helped drive job growth at the factory, he said.
Nokian's headcount in Dayton rose from 175 workers to about 325 in 2021.
"Nokian Tyres One exceeded sales projections by a good bit," Boling said. "It's the best-selling product in our history in North America."
Nokian, known worldwide for its winter tires, aimed to capture more of the all-season market.
"We're expanding our dealer base," said Tommi Heinonen, the company's vice president of sales in North America, early this year. "We're going to the South, the Southeast and the Southwest.
David Korda, the Dayton factory's operations director, said the site is a key part of Nokian's growth plan.
"Our employees are the most important part of our factory," he said. "We look forward to expanding our team."
Boling said the slowdown in new vehicle production in the United States and globally due to both the coronavirus and the semiconductor chip shortage hasn't hurt Nokian's Dayton plant. That's because the facility produces replacement tires only, he said.
"We're insulated from some of those challenges," the Nokian official said.
A bigger problem for the company has been the supply chain, he said. Nokian also produces tires in Finland and Russia.
"We've had to be creative," Boling said, adding the company has loosened timelines to compensate.
He said Nokian hasn't seen a lot of employee turnover in Dayton since its startup, citing its "competitive wages" and benefits.
Most of the new hiring will take place in late 2022 and in 2023, Boling said.
Nokian has worked with educational institutions including Rhea County High School and community colleges to provide opportunities for area students, according to the company.
"As we grow the team at our factory, we recognize the importance of being a strong community partner," said Blake Markham, the plant's senior human resources manager.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.