The second annual Southern Indiana Automotive Expo kicked off with many attendees and an abundance of enthusiasm.
A large number of booths were set up to allow vendors to showcase new products and innovations to other manufacturers. Vendors were able to talk to other industry professionals and network, possibly creating new business opportunities and starting valuable professional relationships.
Marc Coplon, of the Decatur County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), took the microphone first to do an introduction for the Auto Expo and to thank the parties that made the event possible. Among those he mentioned were the owner of the building, who allowed the space to be used for the expo, Mancino’s, who catered Thursday’s lunch at the expo, Highpoint Orchard, who will cater Friday’s breakfast and local car dealerships and the Honda plant, who provided the vehicles on display.
Mayor Gary Herbert then took the podium to welcome attendees to the expo. “The automotive industry has been great for Greensburg,” he said. He went on to talk about all the benefits the automotive industry has brought to city, county, and state. He continued to say, “The city and the county are one, united in support for everything the EDC and the automotive industry are doing in Greensburg.”
Marc Coplon then introduced Honda Manufacturing of Indiana president Bob Nelson. Coplon listed the professional accomplishments that led to Nelson’s presidency and gave a warm welcome to the Honda president.
Nelson thanked everyone for attending and gave a brief history of the auto expo and Honda’s involvement with it. Nelson spoke about the drop in the automotive industry in recent years and gave the uplifting 2013 sales forecast projection of 15.5 million cars sold, giving a massive boost to the lagging industry.
Nelson went on to talk about the effect the 2011 earthquake in Japan and the tsunami in Thailand effected production at Honda plants and the various strides Honda took to adjust, as well as the things the company learned to prevent such a production hold up in the event of future disasters.
Honda has been producing cars in North America longer than any other international auto maker, and 90 percent of the Honda products sold are made in North America. Nelson said that soon, North America will be exporting more Honda vehicles than it imports.
Nelson showed several short videos about Honda, including a PBS special, “How A Car is Born,” that gave viewers an inside look into the manufacturing process. The Greensburg Honda plant is the only one in the world to produce the natural gas powered Civic, as well as the gasoline/hybrid models.
Nelson then went on to list the various awards and production achievements that Honda has accomplished in the last few years, which included adding a second shift and launching the Acura ILX hybrid model. The Greensburg plant produces a staggering 500 vehicles every shift. Nelson said, “We believe what makes a Honda is who makes a Honda.”
In addition to their community involvement, which is significant, Honda strives to be a leader in environmental efforts, earning a LEED certification and a 2012 Energy Star certification.
Honda uses a program called DREAM (Driving Results by Engaging Associates’ Minds) as a way for employees to make suggestions and give idea on ways to improve effectiveness and cut costs. Nelson stated that Honda is always encouraging fresh ideas.
Nelson shared a portion of an interview with Sean McAlinden of the Center for Automotive Research, who said, “Honda has some of the happiest and most loyal customers in the industry- and that’s no accident.”
Nelson then spoke about the relationship Honda strives to uphold with its suppliers and the importance of open communication. In 2012, Honda spent $2.3 billion for parts that come from local suppliers. Honda works with 47 suppliers in Indiana alone. In addition, they offer training and support to suppliers, further increasing the effectiveness of their professional relationship. Several videos were shown giving testimonials from companies that work directly with Honda in a supplier capacity.
The importance of good supplier/purchaser relationships was stressed by Nelson. The purchasing and supply teams must work together to be the most competitive team in the world, Nelson said. He went on to state that the teams need to be globally competitive, even right here in Greensburg.
Local community plays a major role in the success of Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, according to Nelson. “Let us know how we can be a part of the community, we absolutely love it here.”
Nelson finished his speaking time with a question and answer session with those in attendance. He answered questions about turning to local suppliers versus overseas suppliers after the 2011 natural disasters, further expansion plans, levels of education required to work with Honda, and the best way for potential suppliers to present themselves to Honda.
After the questions were answered, the assembly enjoyed a delicious lunch catered by Mancino’s.
When asked for his thoughts on Nelson’s speech, Marc Coplon said, “I thought Bob’s comments on workforce development and the workforce were very important to helping our economic development efforts with Honda and its suppliers across the Midwest. I thought he gave potential suppliers some very good advice on doing business with Honda.”
More photos from this event can be found at www.greensburgdailynews.smugmug.com.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004