ARDMORE, Okla. (KFOR) – Michelin North America says it will begin winding down tire production at its Ardmore site, with the goal of completing the process by year-end 2025 or sooner, impacting approximately 1,400 people working in the tire-making process.
Officials say the Ardmore site, which has produced passenger tires since 1970, is expected to continue rubber-mixing operations while tire production will gradually shift to Michelin’s other passenger-tire plants in North America.
In line with Michelin’s values of Respect, the Company is committed to support employees, the community and partners throughout this transition. Specific details will be discussed directly with employees starting today, and through individual conversations over the coming weeks.
North America’s passenger-vehicle market is changing rapidly and profoundly. Despite substantial investments over the past five years to improve technical capabilities and competitiveness, Michelin has concluded that the Ardmore factory is not equipped to deliver tires at competitive costs that will meet these evolving market demands in the coming years. Continuing investments to modernize the Ardmore plant would negatively impact other U.S. sites in the network.
Michelin cites market conditions such as an increase of light trucks, cross-over vehicles and electric vehicles on the road as major factors in the decision.
Precise timing has not been determined for specific phases of the wind-down, according to Michelin. However, Michelin expects the first wave of staffing reductions will occur in mid-2024 and additional reductions are expected to occur in phases through 2025.
“Michelin has strived to be a good steward in every chapter for this plant and community. Winding down operations is the hardest of all business decisions. The Company has carefully explored every other option before resolving this decision,” said Terry Redmile, senior vice president of manufacturing for Michelin Group’s Americas Zone. “In the months ahead, we’ll work through every stage of the transition with a deep sense of stewardship for the Ardmore community. Our goal is to provide individual support for each person at the Ardmore site to start a new chapter in the best way possible. This also includes starting conversations with local and state-level leaders to determine the best ways to lend support for this community even after the transition.”
Michelin paused its operations at the plant Thursday to present employees with the reduction plans and their options going forward.
Officials say company representatives will discuss separation benefits individually with each person who works in the factory over the coming days and weeks.
Michelin says it will offer retention bonuses going forward to achieve a smooth transition for employees and customers. When staffing reductions begin in 2024, Michelin will offer a combination of early retirement, separation benefits and financial incentives for relocation support.
Congressman Tom Cole, OK-04, released a statement following the announcement:
This news is certainly a shock and disappointment to the Ardmore community and surrounding areas as approximately 1,400 jobs will be affected.
My office will continue to monitor the situation and work with community leaders in any way we can to ensure the community’s and employees’ needs are taken care of.Congressman Tom Cole
Senator James Lankford, R-OK, also released a statement Thursday.
Governor Stitt made the following statement:
It’s definitely disappointing to hear that Michelin is leaving Ardmore. They’ve been a mainstay in southern Oklahoma for years. Events like this illustrate why it’s important to be the most business friendly state. Business is constantly changing, but Ardmore is great location with a great workforce, and I have no doubt we will attract more businesses. I know Oklahomans will do what we always do – lend a hand to their neighbor as these folks transition to the next chapter. I’m working with Lt. Gov. Pinnell and the Department of Commerce to make sure those impacted have access to available programs so they land on their feet.
State Senator Jerry Alford, R-Ardmore, and State Representative Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, also issued statements.
I’m saddened to learn of the announced closure of the Michelin tire plant in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The abruptness of this decision has caught us all off guard, including those in the industry. This decision will undoubtedly have a significant economic impact on our community, and the loss of jobs is deeply distressing. Our thoughts are with the hardworking employees and their families who will be affected by this unfortunate development. I understand the importance of job stability and economic security and will work tirelessly to help bring new opportunities to our great state.Senator Jerry Alford
I know this decision was not made lightly, and while we would have loved to of been given every opportunity by Michelin North America to keep them growing strong in our area for years to come, we respect their decision to move their operation. We are so grateful that they are going to keep the rubber mixing operation in Ardmore. We will do our best to support the affected families during the shut down process.Representative Tammy Townley