General Tire Opens Wartime Plant
With World War II raging and victory still in doubt, the War Office declares vehicle tires a strategic resource; with government backing, the General Tire & Rubber Co. opened a half-million-square-foot facility in Waco that was the industry's most advanced and the first in the Southwest. The establishment of this plant in Waco was a signal that Central Texas was moving towards becoming a center for industry. In fact, General Tire's president, William O'Neal, "the war has dissipated the old idea that all manufacturing had to be done in the north" and that the south "could hope to be no more than an agricultural area."
In January 1945 production began and the Waco plant produced truck tires for the U.S. Army and Navy and other rubber-based equipment such as specialized balloons for wartime use and rafts. After the war, General Tire switched to producing consumer products. In 1951, the plant was producing 1.5 million tires a year and had become famous for their bias-ply truck tires. By 1954, the plant had doubled in size and had a daily production of 6,000 tires for cars, trucks, tractors, and other farm equipment.