“TYM is here to stay”: TYM CEO Dohoon Kim on TYM NA’s new home in Georgia and more
It’s only the first quarter of the year, but it’s already clear that 2023 will be a pivotal year for TYM. Hot on the heels of the TYM-Branson (Kukje Machinery) integration, TYM established its North American subsidiary in January to expand its global market strategy. To find out more about what this means for TYM, we sat down with CEO Dohoon Kim to discuss TYM North America’s new home in Georgia, recent technological developments, and ambitious plans for this year and beyond.
Q: With the new TYM North America office in Atlanta and manufacturing facilities under construction in Rome, what can we expect to see from the company in the coming months?
Where do I start? The US is one of the largest tractor market globally. With growing demand for food production and the interest in hobby farming during COVID, TYM tractors have also seen a boost in our market share. These factors, alongside our long-awaited merger with Branson tractors, gave us the opportunity to expand our operations in the US to meet the growing demand for TYM tractors. Now we plan to increase our annual tractor production capacity from 30,000 to 50,000 units with our North American plants. We’re also expanding the TYM tractor lineup with new models equipped with 70-130 horsepower engines in response to the demand for high-powered tractors in the region.
Q: What is the current state of TYM dealers in North America, and how will the new plan impact TYM dealerships?
We currently have over 300 TYM dealerships in North America that we’ll be equipping with more parts and supplies. We’re also looking to grow the number of TYM dealerships to 400 to 500 in the next three to five years. Bringing in new dealers is important for growth, but it’s a significant undertaking that we don’t take lightly. New TYM dealers are veterans of other brands who have decided to switch over to TYM after comparing the product and services. They receive hours of service training to perform diagnostics and repairs. We understand that commitment and have continued to serve TYM dealers with regular dealer training and services. And to make this more accessible for both dealers and owners, we’ve produced hundreds of online training videos covering popular service and repair topics for TYM tractors.
Q: A lot of tractor companies export their products to North America, but TYM has gone above and beyond. What was the motive behind setting up bigger operations in the US?
It was time to centralize and transition the product and assembly to the US to better serve the end customer. Product, service, and parts are the trifecta of the tractor business. TYM’s presence in the US is a show of our commitment to a lifetime of service. When it comes to tractors, the quality of service and availability of parts are sometimes even more important than the product itself—these are things that the customer doesn’t do once, but seeks out repeatedly over the next 10, 20, 30 years. TYM will have new production facilities, a training center, and an expanded warehouse—all located in the United States. Settling in Georgia is saying that TYM is here to stay.
Q: How did TYM decide to put down its North American roots down in Georgia?
Georgia is often referred to the Detroit of the South, so it’s a strategic location. It’s a Mecca for the tractor industry, which makes it a great location for recruiting experienced talent with TYM’s ongoing expansion. Prior to the TYM-Branson merger, the production of our tractors was spread across three locations. As we merged the two companies and their operations, we decided to centralize and grow the operations in Georgia where we could benefit from the hub of Atlanta and the additional acreage at our factory in Rome.
Q: While TYM has been busy breaking new ground, it’s also been making waves with manufacturing developments and digital initiatives. Tell us about some of the new technologies at TYM that you’re excited about.
We recently announced updates to some of our most popular models, the TYM T76, T115, and T130 tractors. On top of that, we have two major full model changes in the works. First, the T76 will be upgraded with higher horsepower to a T78. And within the next five years, we plan to introduce our highest horsepower machinery yet—a brand new 150 hp tractor.
We’re also prioritizing our goal of becoming a carbon neutral company by 2040. We’ve developed cellulose, a fully bio-degradable material to be used on the internal paneling of TYM tractors. We’ve also announced the first eco-friendly transmission oil for tractors that TYM developed last year. Beyond the product and behind the scenes, the production process is changing, too. Pre-existing factories are currently going through a digital transformation by implementing a Factory Energy Management System (FMS).
TYM dealers and customers may have used TYM World Online, our award-winning interactive 3D experience, to configure and simulate their tractors before driving them in real life. In a similar vein, TYM has been digitizing our production process as well. We’ve started employing digital twin technology to manufacture and maintain our machinery, helping our test our products with a digital prototype to reduce what could be a lengthy and emissions-heavy R&D period.
Q: What kind of initiatives do you have planned to increase TYM’s presence and market share in North America now?
The TYM office in Atlanta and production facilities in Rome will create 150-200 local jobs in the immediate future. We also plan to have expand our parts distribution center across other regions over the next five years, so we will continue to hire locally across the US.
I’m a big baseball fan, and TYM recently announced a sponsorship deal with the Atlanta Braves. The Braves have had a long tradition of excellence—it’s not just a local team, it’s a national treasure. And baseball is a family tradition, just as farming is for many of our customers. From hay rides to tractor pulls, the tractor is often at the heart of great memories and traditions. So it seems fitting to bring TYM tractors to Truist Park to support one of America’s favorite pastimes.
As for brand recognition in the US, that’s something that we’ll need to work on over the next couple years, but I know that the key driver to buying a tractor is the quality of the service and parts. Once the tractor community sees TYM’s commitment, I have no doubt the recognition will follow.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about visiting Atlanta, particularly the Buckhead area where TYM North America’s office is located?
Atlanta is a great, vibrant city. It serves as the headquarters for many corporations and I can fly there non-stop from Seoul, where I’m based. The plaza where the TYM Atlanta office is located also houses a hotel and many other businesses, and it’s only 15 minutes from the airport. The Buckhead area is known for its cultural scene and events, and the barbecue in the Atlanta area is amazing, too!
Q: Did you set any resolutions for 2023? What’s a personal goal you have for 2023? And what’s your biggest goal and priority for TYM?
My goals for this year include reading and working out more regularly, and spending more time with my family. To that end, I recently started a hockey club at my kids’ school to help foster an interest in the sport. Hockey is becoming popular among elementary-aged students living in Seoul, but there’s no place for them to continue the sport through the middle and high school years. Who knows, maybe TYM will sponsor a children’s hockey tournament someday!
For TYM as a company, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one goal. We’re continuing our global expansion in 2023. We’re investing heavily in our North American operations, and we have our sights set on Europe. This summer we plan to fortify our European operations and increase market share there as well.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To get news and updates from TYM, visit our latest news page to get the most up-to-date information about the company’s latest initiatives and projects.