Kenda touts new products, faster ‘cycle time’ at event

Kenda Rubber Industrial Co.Ltd. recently celebrated its 60th anniversary by hosting an open house at its North American Technical Center near Akron, Ohio.

The facility is one of four research and development centers that the maker of passenger car, light truck, bicycle and other tires operates around the world.

The others are located in Taiwan, Kenda’s home country; China; and Europa. (The company also has seven manufacturing plants, including one in Taiwan, one in Indonesia, two in Vietnam and three in China.)

Kenda has invested more than $20 million in its North American Technical Center, which opened in 2016. (Forty-six people work at the Akron site. Kenda employs 13,000 people worldwide.)

“Kenda is a world leader in tire development and manufacturing,” Jimmy Yang, president of Kenda Rubber Industrial, told guests at the open house.

The company’s North American Technical Center has developed numerous products for the North American market, including the Klever M/T2 KR629, an all-terrain light truck tire that was unveiled last November at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show 2021.

The tire will be available this summer in 30 sizes, fitting wheels ranging from 15-inch to 22-inch in diameter, with additional sizes in the works.

The center is also developing a new lawn and garden tire for zero-turn mowers, which are gaining popularity. “Kenda is really excited about the growth of this market space,” Yang said.

Faster cycle time

Kenda’s global sales in 2021 totaled $1.25 billion. (About 35% of Kenda’s revenue last year was generated by its North American operations.)

“Our cycle time on new products” has been significantly reduced, said Brandon Stotsenburg, vice president, automotive division, American Kenda Rubber Co. “On the PLT side, we completely transformed our product screen in seven years.”

He adds that “all new products of the second generation of our product screen have been developed” at the North American Technology Center.

“These products constitute more than 90% of our sales in North America.

During the event, Kenda also unveiled its new E-University digital education portal, which will offer “self-paced” e-learning courses – accessible, when needed – for Kenda dealers. It will include a training library and notify dealers when new content becomes available.

The goal “is to provide you with key information to make your job easier,” Stotsenburg told the dealers in attendance.

The launch of the portal was followed by a tour of the facilities. Guests met with Kenda’s research and development managers and observed various tire testing stations.

“We design our test centers to be accountable to the markets they are in,” said Yang, who recently discussed Kenda’s growth and how the company is responding to the chain’s crisis. sourcing and other challenges with MTD Editor-in-Chief Mike Manges.