Posted by Cris on June 14, 2007
I toured the Matador ATC tire factory this morning, thanks to two of my students from the Slovak Republic, Jaro and Petr. Matador is a Slovak company, which produces ‘Addis Tyre’ brand tires for sale in Africa. I guess business isnt so good now in Africa, as the Matador tires are more expensive than their Chinese or Indian competitors.
It was a very informative tour- I saw the whole thing from start to end, carbon pellets and raw rubber blocks to tire x-rays. I guess I should have known, but tires are pretty complicated. They consist of a bunch of different layers, beads, metal strands, etc that are all pressed together. A lot less melting than Id imagined.
If other tires companies are similar you shouldnt worry about your tires exploding- the quality control seemed pretty good. They x-ray the tires to ensure balance and the absence of defects inside, and do strength testing, I guess you could call it, on a certain percentage to make sure the tires wont explode too soon. They have a guy who’s job it is to sit and watch the tires “drive” on a machine at 220 km/hr until they blow up, which usually happens around day two of testing.
All in all, a very interesting place that was less stinky and hot than I thought it would be. Very automated, but still people-controlled. They emply about 750 people in Addis, and pay relatively good wages along with food and medical benefits. The big worry now, for my students at least, is that Continental just bought a 55% stake in the company so theyre not sure what will happen in the near future- factories closing, management shifting (which means these Slovaks could find themselves in Brazil or Malaysia), or consolidation. The joys of multinational corporations I guess. They both have families in the Slovak Republic, and make it home 3-4 times a year for a couple weeks at a time. Sorry, no pictures, I couldnt take any for fear of tire company secrets leaking onto the web.