Kumho Tire may not be as well known in the United States as other brands, but they’re actually one of the biggest tire companies in the world. They’ve made a name for themselves by offering quality high-performance tires at affordable prices – for example, the Kumho Ecsta 4X II (KU22), which manages to punch far above its price point with excellent traction in all weather conditions. Currently, Kumho Tire is the Official Tire of the NBA, allowing them to reach a broader audience year after year.
Believe it or not, Kumho’s history actually begins with a taxi service started by the company’s founder, Park In-Chon, in South Korea after World War II. In the 1950s the company started to add bus and coach services, and in 1960 Park established Samyang Tire. As the Korean economy grew during that period, so did Samyang, and the company expanded to include subsidiaries in the industrial, chemical, and leisure industries, as well as Korea’s second largest airline, Asiana Airlines (which actually uses Kumho tires for its planes). Samyang was eventually renamed Kumho, which means “bright lake” in Korean.
Currently Kumho is headquartered in Gwangju, South Korea, while the overall Kumho Asiana Group is headquartered at the Kumho Asiana Main Tower in Seoul, which features a digital facade that’s lit by 42,000 LED lights. Kumho also has three plants in South Korea including the Kumho Research and Development Center in Gwangju. There are also another three plants in China and one in Vietnam.
Kumho Tire’s operations in the United States are run out of their development center in Akron, Ohio. This state-of-the-art, 20,400 square foot facility was built in 2001, at a cost of $2 million. In this facility, Kumho designs and tests tires made for the U.S. and North American markets, and it was here that great tires like the Road Venture AT51 all-terrain tire and the Solus touring tires were developed. The facility is also focusing on developing tires and technology that will allow Kumho to pursue car manufacturers and continue to expand in the lucrative original equipment space. The company also built a $450 million dollar manufacturing plant in Macon, Georgia that gives Kumho the ability to manufacture 4 million passenger and truck tires a year for the U.S. and North American markets.
In the United States, Kumho is also known as the official tire of the NBA. That partnership began in 2014, was renewed in 2016, and will likely continue for many years. The sponsorship highlights the parallels between basketball and tires – the quick direction changes and agility that are required of basketball players on the court are highly desired qualities in tires as well. In addition to sponsoring the league, Kumho recently announced a partnership with NBA All-Star Guard John Wall. Kumho says that Wall has a “calm, cool and collected attitude when competing,” which echoes the company’s mission to provide a safe and comfortable ride, even in adverse conditions.