Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

January 10, 2014

Auto, housing fuel jobs boom in Decatur County

(Continued)

Coplon said Hitachi Powdered Metals USA, which invested nearly $6 million on new machinery and building expansions last year, also contributed to the local growth last year.

Hitachi Powdered Metals USA is seeing significant growth because of a recovering auto sector, more access to corporate capital and the support of local government and economic development officials, said Gregory Owens, vice president and chief operating officer.

At the beginning of last year, the local operation consisted of a 180,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, which employed 174. By the end of the year, employment had jumped to 207, and a second plant, measuring 160,000 square feet, had been added to increase capacity.

The local operations annually produce about 150 million powdered metal parts, such as sprockets, valve guides and pulleys, for auto makers including Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Ford and General Motors. Growth also was fueled in part by a new product, a variable valve timing housing, which improves engine efficiency by adjusting the timing of the fuel injection into the combustion chamber depending on the engine’s revolutions per minute.

The company’s 30-acre campus soon will include another 20,000-square-foot building, which, though much smaller in size than the other two buildings, marks a significant step in the local operation’s evolution.

The new facility will mean product diversification, as it will produce high-density plastic parts for a division of Hitachi Chemical Co.

The local plants previously were owned by Hitachi Powdered Metals, but that company has been acquired by the much larger Hitachi Chemical, Owens said. Hitachi Powdered Metal accounts for about 8 percent of the parent company’s sales.

Owens said that economic development efforts by local officials played a significant part in the parent company opting to expand Hitachi’s Greensburg operations. The company has plants in many areas, including Mexico, for example, but chose Greensburg for production of the plastic parts because of the employees’ good work and because local officials, including Coplon and Mayor Gary Herbert, established a good relationship with company leaders when they traveled to Japan.

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