In April 2009, Vibram will celebrate the grand opening of its Vibram China Tech Center, located an hour outside of Guangzhou. The $12 million facility, which has been under construction for three years, will be used for testing, R&D and production simulation. About 70 people will work at the center.
According to Tony Post, president and CEO of Vibram USA, “We needed a place to be able to do conceptual development. This gives the U.S. business the ability to move faster, test more product, and allows for more rapid prototyping, faster development [of rubber compounds], and more accurate duplication of manufacturing conditions.”
The facility will include a large lab, a wear-testing center, and will accommodate environmental simulation (including testing surfaces and climbing conditions). The center, which has been under construction for three years, will not replace Vibrams testing and development facilities in Italy.
“This isnt about immediate profit,” says Post. “Its more about long-term development that will help preserve the integrity of the brand.” He adds, “Climate conditions such as humidity and temperature are different in Italy than in China, and we needed to replicate Chinese conditions. In fact, we will produce 20 million soles in China in 2009.”