Michelin is building a new plant in Anderson County, S.C., adding 500 American jobs and becoming a big wheel in the process.
As in a 12.5 foot tall, five-ton tire, the kind needed for the wheels of heavy earthmoving equipment that go 24/7, said Pete Selleck, president of Michelin North America.
"We could’ve made this investment anywhere in the world," he told CNBC Tuesday. "This plant will make tires not just in North America but 80 percent will be exported all around the world."
Michelin has 22,000 workers in North America, 39 percent in South Carolina where it has eight other plants. The Anderson County plant is the company's first in North America in 15 years.
The need for such tires shows a boost in demand for heavy industry, he said.
"These tires go on large pieces of equipment in construction and mining to satisfy the world’s growth," he said. Michelin is also making tires for smaller vehicles "that improve the productivity of mining and construction around the world."
Michelin tries "to position our manufacturing plants where the markets are to try to offset all the logistics costs and also the currency fluctuations that we can’t control," he added.
"We don’t necessarily think the dollar is going to get stronger [in the] long term, but fundamentally we’ve got an environment where we can continue to improve productivity and we can have a successful operation exporting from South Carolina."