In September 1960 we established Samyang Tire, the predecessor of today's Kumho Tire. In those days, the domestic automobile industry was at a primitive stage, and so were auto parts industries like the tire industry. We made about 20 tires a day, depending on manual labor because of our backward technology and shortage of facilities. However, from the latter half of the '60s, we acquired the KS Mark and managed to ship to East Asia for the first time. This was our starting point.
At the end of the '60s, when the Korean government was leading national reconstruction, Kumho worked hard to meet the government's objectives and to gain business strength. Kumho poured energy into building its Songjung Plant (the present Kwangju Plant). With this new facility, and after establishing ties with UNI Royal of the USA, Kumho caught up in technology and entered the world marketplace.
Despite the 1974 oil shock and difficulties in procuring raw materials, Kumho managed to achieve remarkable growth. In 1976 Kumho became the leader in the tire sector and was listed on the Korea Stock Exchange. Songjung Plant II was added in 1977. Receiving the grand prize of the Korea Quality Control Award in 1979, Kumho sharpened its corporate image with the public.
The turmoil of political instability and feverish democratization in the '80s worsened the business environment. Kumho also underwent labor-management struggles but succeeded in straightening out one issue after another. In the meanwhile, the company chalked up a total output of 50 million tires, broke ground for its Koksung Plant, and completed its proving ground, in preparation for a new takeoff.
The '90s have been the runway for a takeoff into the 21st century. Kumho is refreshing its corporate culture today in order to cope with the ever-changing business environment in the world under the WTO regime and to take its place on the global forefront.