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BusinessWeek, "Most of the midsize leaders, in Korea"
Other midsize companies have focused on improving the quality of their products. Hankook Tire Co. has set aside 5% of its annual sales to invest in technology and new production facilities in recent years. And it has opened research and development centers in the U.S., Germany, and China, plus six overseas sales offices, to increase quality and woo foreign buyers. Those initiatives have paid off as customers such as Ford (F ) Volkswagen, Mitsubishi Motors, and Volvo have all signed new contracts or increased their orders from Hankook, boosting exports by 20%, to $456 million, in the first half of this year. And the company's shipments of high-margin, high-performance tires leaped 44%, to 1 million units. That helped lift six-month net profit by 123%, to $54.2 million on sales of $722 million, up 14%. Like businesses worldwide, Korea's midsize companies are also looking to China. Hankook has become the largest tire supplier for passenger cars there, with a 20% share of the market. This year, its tire production on the mainland is expected to grow by 11%, to $124 million.