The Loadstar Case Study | Daily News

The Loadstar Case Study

The above table shows the growth of the Solid Rubber tire export market in Sri Lanka. Given that Loadstar is by far the market leader, this data depicts the growth of Loadstar and its impact in the Sri Lankan economy.
The above table shows the growth of the Solid Rubber tire export market in Sri Lanka. Given that Loadstar is by far the market leader, this data depicts the growth of Loadstar and its impact in the Sri Lankan economy.

In the wake of the Budget 2023 and its focus on export orientation, I felt it appropriate to publish the below study on Loadstar Private Ltd., a company formed as a JV between the Pringiers family and the Jinasena family. This business grew to be the largest producer of industrial tires in the world, accounting for over 25% of the global market. The company was the single largest source of foreign exchange into Sri Lanka in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

Loadstar put Sri Lanka on the map as a global industrial manufacturer in general, and one of rubber products in particular.

Today, Loadstar is owned and run by Michelin, showing that Sri Lanka can attract global giants.

The issues that we often hear about Sri Lanka’s labour being uncompetitive, extinct, our electricity rates being high, and that businesses cannot compete, should be evaluated against the below success story. And Sri Lanka is home to many such success stories. The Government should explore what they can do to create ten more Loadstar’s.

Objective of Case Study

To showcase how a Sri Lankan manufacturing company grew to be the global leader in its product category. The identification and evaluation of the factors that led to the success of Loadstar could facilitate the growth of other companies.


Loadstar began production in 1984 as a joint venture between Pierre Pringiers, a Belgian engineer working for Trelleborg (a Belgian company producing industrial tires in Sri Lanka) and the Jinasena family, who ran a local engineering business.

Pierre Pringiers also brought into the joint venture Phillippe Danneels who had a connection with the retail channel for industrial tires. By 2005, the company was the largest producer of industrial tires in the world, overtaking Pierre’s previous company Trelleborg.

Loadstar produced 25% of the global solid rubber tire market, 5% of the pneumatic industrial tire market, and were leading manufacturer of tracks, industrial rims and even entire axel assemblies.

Loadstar was the largest source of foreign exchange into Sri Lanka, bringing in over 2% of the country’s foreign exchange. It comprised 11 production units employing over 6,500 Sri Lankan staff. They produced solid and pneumatic industrial tires, rubberized tracks, rims and complete axel assemblies. Michelin bought Loadstar in 2018 for US$ 1.45 billion. By this time, 11 industrial tire produces had emerged in Sri Lanka, contributing 65% of the global market.

See Chart 1

Chart 2 and Chart 3 illustrate the same point.

Key Drivers of Loadstar Success


When Loadstar was established, there was a national focus on globalization and industrialization. The Board of Investment (BOI) established in 1978 was a strong entity with wide powers to promote investment. They facilitated a genuine ‘one stop shop’ for foreign investment approvals. The BOI law gave the investors’ confidence that the dollars they brought into the country were safe, that they could withdraw dividends when required. The BOI gave investors the confidence that they would deliver on commitments made to investors.

Concessional Project Finance

The National Development Bank (NDB), established in 1982, was then a new and dynamic institution with a strong development focus. They were mandated to lend long-term, on the strength of a company’s cash low and business plan. Loadstar negotiated an uncollateralized loan at inception, which gave the investors much needed financial support. NDB’s loan disbursements were based on concessional funds they were granted by the ADB, which further assisted Loadstar.

Founders specialized expertise

Pierre Pringiers who conceptualized the idea to form Loadstar, brought with him extensive technical knowledge of tire production. He was supported by Phillippe who gave the company access to a global retail and distribution network. The third element was that Jinasena’s, brought not just funding, but also strong skills and experience in managing manufacturing companies. Dr. Tissa Jinasena, who was the Joint Managing Director of the company, dedicated his life to growing this business. He is a qualified engineer, with a passion for training and HR. He created a corporate culture within the company that was its foundation for growth. Pierre’s son Koenraad is the Managing Director of the company, working with Michelin.

Engineering support

The Jinasena’s engineering ability enabled the company to develop production equipment in-house. This facilitated rapid expansion through the ability to increase production capacity very cost effectively. This ability not only improved scale but also the company’s productivity as the locally designed machinery was designed specifically for the production process adopted by Loadstar. The Loadstar engineering team, led by Dr. Tissa Jinasena married Sri Lankan engineers with Chinese counterparts to source the components required. This team designed and manufactured complex computerized material handling systems and robotic arms with four-way movement and printed circuit control.

Trainable workforce

Loadstar boasted of 6,500 direct staff to 400 indirect staff. This ratio was achieved through the creation of self-managing working teams, with inbuilt maintenance ability. This team did their own equipment maintenance and ran preventive maintenance programmes and took responsibility for industrial safety and the cleanliness of their working environment, whilst doing their production. Global visitors to the plant have been extremely impressed that the factory has worked on a 24/7/365 from its inception.

Commitment to growth and reinvestment of profits

Aggressive reinvestment of profits enabled the company to grow its production capacity which in turn enabled them to achieve 20% growth year on year for their first 10 years of existence. Through this process, the company now has 11 factories and a widely diversified product range.

Sri Lankan living experience

Finally, a part of the success story that supported Loadstar is that Sri Lanka is a country that offers expatriates a good living experience, in comparison to other countries a potential investor may consider.


Product Diversification

Loadstar commenced producing industrial solid rubber tires, diversified into the production of industrial pneumatic tires, then went into the production of tire related equipment such as rims and axels. Tracks was a highly profitable related product that drove their success in the mid 2000’s.

Production of machinery and engineering services

As discussed above, they developed the competence of manufacturing production equipment. This activity didn’t bring in a revenue stream but saved very significant investment expenditure. The reason this activity didn’t develop into a profit centre is that the internal demand for machinery to drive the company’s expansion was very high, and there was never spare capacity available.

Training and HRD

A core strength of the company was the induction training module developed by the company’s HR team, led by founder Dr. Tissa Jinasena. The Loadstar training and motivational toolkit was acknowledged as ‘world-class’ by all who have interacted with the business.

Skills transfer

A Loadstar funded CSR activity to help local fishermen rebuild their boats that were destroyed by the Tsunami is today a yacht manufacture, exporting million-dollar yachts internationally.

To revisit the objective of the study on Loadstar, it was to identify factors that drove growth of the company. The data on the impact of Loadstar on the Sri Lankan export sector is so startling that it leads one to question where Sri Lanka would be if she had nurtured ten more entities like Loadstar. Chart 4 illustrates this point.

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