List of Article with: ngk spark plugs
The story below appeared in today’s Charleston Gazette.
By Paul J. Nyden
NGK Spark Plugs plans to hire additional workers to expand its manufacturing facilities in Sissonville, in addition to the 300 employees who already work there.
But NGK Vice President Bob Pepper said Wednesday, “We have not yet finalized the total number of new jobs. We should have a pretty good idea by the end of next week.”
In October, NGK will begin moving production equipment to Sissonville from its plant in Irvine, Calif., which will stop making spark plugs next May.
“The consolidation of manufacturing into one location enables us to manage our process with a single team and facilitates better economies of scale,” Pepper said. “An expanded West Virginia campus will further strengthen our global network and better position the company to service its North American manufacturing customers.”
Headquartered in Wixom, Mich., NGK has manufacturing, storage and distribution facilities in Sissonville, Irvine and Chicago, Ill.
In 1995, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., played a key role in attracting NGK to West Virginia. NGK, the first Japanese auto company to come to the state, built an oxygen sensor plant near Sissonville 15 years ago.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Pepper and NGK Chief Administrative Officer Richard Sullivan were in Irvine, where they announced the shutdown of part of that facility.
“We are meeting with individuals and associates there [who might be losing their jobs]. It is a tough couple of days here,” Pepper said on Wednesday.
“On the other side of the coin, it is very positive news for Kanawha County and Sissonville.”
In Sissonville, production of oxygen sensors, which reduce exhaust emissions, has also increased recently.
“We have taken on additional business that had been done in Japan for our customers in Brazil — Ford and Fiat,” Pepper said. “There has also been a strengthening of the auto market in the U.S., a little busier than expected.”
Rockefeller said, “This additional plant responsibility is another testament to our state’s incredible workforce. I know that the team members at NGK will be able to handle anything sent their way and I thank the company for putting their faith in us.”
Gov. Joe Manchin said he was pleased NGK decided to expand its local operations.
“In these difficult economic times, to have this level of commitment from NGK is remarkable and truly strengthens our ability to attract future investments.”
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said, “All too often, we are told no one in West Virginia is doing anything about keeping, and bringing in, good-paying jobs.
“Here is a great success story. We already have over 300 good-paying jobs with excellent benefits. We all have benefited from the cooperation between the federal government, Sen. Rockefeller, state government, local government and the Charleston Area Alliance.”
NGK said its Irvine facility will continue to operate as a distribution center and depot for the West Coast.
NGK has indicated that plans for the transition of production equipment from California to Sissonville should begin in October, and the move means new jobs creation at the company’s Sissonville site.
“The consolidation of manufacturing into one location enables us to manage our process with a single team and facilitates better economies of scale” explained Bob Pepper, vice president of manufacturing and operations.
The company opened the Sissonville spark plug portion of their West Virginia operations through an expansion in May of 2008 with intentions of expanding capacity to meet market demands. Changes in the auto industry and forecasts for recovery created the need for consolidation and accelerated the timing for the West Virginia expansion.
“An expanded West Virginia campus will further strengthen our global network and better position the company to service its North American manufacturing customers,” Pepper said.
NGK opened an oxygen sensor plant near Sissonville in 1995. It opened a distribution center nearby in 2001 and expanded it in 2006. NGK underwent a $15 million expansion at Sissonville two years later. NGK now has nearly 300 employees at its Sissonville location.
NGK was the first Japanese-based company to establish operations in West Virginia. Sen. Jay Rockefeller was instrumental in attracting the company to the region. West Virginia now has about 20 Japanese businesses operating throughout the state.
The Alliance’s predecessor, BIDCO, was heavily involved in developing the Sissonville facility, and the ability to expand that facility is one reason NGK has opted to expand at its West Virginia site.
The Kanawha County Commission and West Virginia Economic Development Authority have also been instrumental in assisting the company through its several expansions.
As the regional economic development organization, the Alliance has offered to assist NGK throughout the transition. Specifically, Alliance economic development and workforce personnel will assist the company with identifying qualified candidates for job opportunities created by the transition.
If NGK associates choose to transfer from California to West Virginia, we will assist those individuals and their families, too.
“Increases in manufacturing are always welcome, especially in a challenging economic environment,” said Alliance President and CEO Matt Ballard. “The Charleston Area Alliance is pleased to be a long-term partner with such a tremendous and successful company such as NGK, and we are committed to assisting the company continue their success through this transition. West Virginia’s quality workforce, our low cost of doing business and our central location in the eastern United States make this state a perfect location for continued growth in manufacturing.”