Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. announced on March 3 that it will significantly reduce tire manufacturing at its Pictou County Nova Scotia car and light truck tire plant over the next 18 months.
The move is in response to a continuing shift in the North American car tire market to larger size tires and the limits of the existing plant.
“The market has changed dramatically since the plant was built in 1971, and the company is changing with market demands,” said Grant Ferguson, president, Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. “Market demand for small car tire dimensions, such as the 14-, 15-, and 16- inch tires produced at the Pictou County plant, is diminishing. Investment costs to upgrade the 43-year-old plant for larger car tire production are not cost-effective.”
The reduction of tire manufacturing at Michelin Pictou County will not affect Michelin’s other two Canadian tire plants in Bridgewater and Waterville, Nova Scotia.
By June 30, 2015, tire production at the Pictou plant will be significantly reduced, impacting about half of the current employees at the facility.
The manufacturing change will occur in two phases: by June 30, 2014, a tire manufacturing production line that produces small dimension car tires will permanently close, affecting approximately 200 employees. By June 30, 2015, the remaining tire production activity at the site will be reduced, impacting approximately a further 300 employees.
“We have a long history of manufacturing here, and we care deeply about the well-being of our workforce and the community,” said Ferguson. “We will continue as a significant manufacturing employer in Pictou County with our remaining operations on site, and we will continue to invest in Nova Scotia.”
Significant aspects of Michelin’s Canadian operations will continue at the Pictou County site. Some high-performance car tire production, tire membrane production and the existing rubber mixing operation will continue along with the company’s Canadian corporate offices.
All impacted Michelin Pictou County hourly and salary employees will have an opportunity to relocate to the company’s tire production facilities located in Bridgewater and Waterville, Nova Scotia. Severance packages are available for all impacted employees.
“We will work closely with all Michelin Pictou County employees affected by this decision to assess their situation and to help determine their best option and their choice moving forward — whether they will be able to retire, transfer to another position or transfer to another Michelin location in Nova Scotia,” said Ferguson.
Michelin remains the largest private manufacturer in Nova Scotia and has invested almost $2 billion in its operations since it began operations in 1969. In the last eight years, from 2005 to 2013, Michelin invested $587 million in its Nova Scotian manufacturing operations.
“Michelin remains committed to Nova Scotia, as evidenced by the fact that this year alone we plan to invest a total of $66.5 million in our three Nova Scotia plants,” said Ferguson. Investments include projects at Bridgewater to extend wire capacity, ongoing investments in the Waterville MICHELIN ® X One® January 2013 investment project, along with a $10-million investment slated for in the rubber mixing operation on the Pictou County site.
Recognizing the Michelin Pictou County plant is a significant part of the local economy, Michelin Canada is also launching Michelin Development, a community development program to assist in the creation of new jobs in the small business sector in the neighbouring communities of Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties. Michelin Development provides low-interest business loans and small business expertise to eligible applicants. More information on this program will be released later this spring.
“Michelin Development has an impressive track record of success,” said Ferguson. “We are pleased that the company is willing to further invest in our area to help foster economic growth. In its eight-year history in North America, Michelin Development has already helped to grow 84 small businesses and is instrumental in creating over 1,300 jobs.”