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Published: Tuesday, 6/24/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

Cooper Tire plans Findlay technical center

$35.5 million facility to centralize company research, development

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
 Cooper Tire and Rubber Company in Findlay. Cooper Tire and Rubber Company in Findlay.
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FINDLAY — A soon-to-be-developed technical center in Findlay will centralize Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.’s top-level research and development and eventually influence products made the world over.

The company plans to spend $35.5 million to develop the site, which is on the campus of Cooper’s global headquarters. The idea, officials say, is to have more development work coming out of a single location. Cooper currently has a network of three technical centers in the United States, Europe, and Asia, with each serving primarily its own home market.

“What we want to do is take that technology that we’re able to develop out of there and then be able to deploy it globally, so it’s coming more out of a centralized area,” Chief Executive Officer Roy Armes recently told The Blade.

Cooper plans to have its new Global Technology Center operational by the end of the year. As many as 40 new jobs are expected, with Cooper bringing in specialized employees such as polymer scientists, rubber designers, and tire designers.

The facility will occupy the space that serves as the North American Technical Center. Those capabilities will remain, though R&D work coming out of Findlay will be considerably bolstered by the new center.

“It’s really going to be coming up with new innovations,” Mr. Armes said. “It’s going to be looking at new polymers, new chemicals that we can use. Substitutes for rubber, for example.”

Cooper has been looking at possibilities of deriving a natural rubber substitute from a shrub that grows in the deserts of the American southwest and Mexico.

Cooper is also working on nanotechnology and recently announced it was getting assistance from NASA on developing a coating for tire molds and incorporating RFID — radio frequency identification — technology into tires.

Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper’s vice president of global research and development, said Monday the Global Technical Center will focus on developing what the company calls “ready to use” advanced technology that will speed product development.

“We are able to develop and launch world-class products more rapidly each year, while continuing to place an emphasis on enhanced tire performance, lightweight tire materials, rolling resistance and fuel economy, wet and dry grip, and reduced tire and vehicle noise,” Mr. Yurkovich said.

“The GTC will help Cooper and its subsidiaries around the world stay ahead of the curve in a very competitive tire industry.”

Cooper is getting a $2.8 million grant to help fund the project through Ohio’s Third Frontier Industrial Research and Development Center Program.

Cooper announced plans for the center more than a year ago, but the project was put on hold as the company navigated a potential merger with Apollo Tyres Ltd., which did not happen.

However, officials said late last month the project was back on. It was officially announced at an event on Monday.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.



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