Hino opening assembly plant in Wood County

By The West Virginia Record | Jun 27, 2007

Gov. Joe Manchin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller present a West Virginia flag to Hideichiro Chikahiro, president of Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc. during the June 25 press conference in Williamstown in Wood County. At the ceremony, Hino announced it will open the first vehicle assembly facility in West Virginia. More on Page 8.

Gov. Joe Manchin climbs aboard a Hino Motors truck -- one of the same types that will be assembled in Williamstown beginning in November.

Gov. Joe Manchin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller present Hideichiro Chikahiro, president of Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc., a limited edition Fenton Art Glass vase as a gift to welcome the company to West Virginia. Fenton Art Glass, one of the world's most famous art glass manufacturers, is based just down the road from Hino's new assembly plant in Williamstown.

WILLIAMSTOWN -– Hino Motors is coming to West Virginia.

At a ceremony June 25, Gov. Joe Manchin joined Hideichiro Chikahiro, president of Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc., Sen. Jay Rockefeller and local officials to announce that the company will assemble medium and heavy-duty trucks in West Virginia. This is the first vehicle assembly facility in West Virginia.

The $8.6 million investment will be used to upgrade the former Walker Systems facility and install manufacturing equipment at the 30.35-acre site. Once operations begin in November, the 194,000-square-foot plant will employ about 80 people who will build 2,500 trucks annually.

"We are extremely proud to welcome Hino Motors to West Virginia and to officially announce the formation of what I'm sure will be a wonderful, long-term partnership," Manchin said. "This announcement is the result of remarkable cooperation and coordination among state agencies, local development authorities and private industry.

"The Williamstown plant is not only West Virginia's first vehicle assembly plant, it's also the first assembly plant for Hino Motors in the U.S. It's a great day for Wood County and for West Virginia."

Chikahiro agreed.

"We are happy to call Wood County, West Virginia, home to our new truck assembly plant," he said. "This represents the latest step in our ambitious growth plans in America and we will strive to be a good corporate citizen while growing with the city, county and state."

Rockefeller said he is incredibly proud to have helped bring Hino Motors to West Virginia.

"It's remarkable to think that in just 15 short years, our state has become home to an automobile parts manufacturer, a sheet-metal stamping plant, a producer of oxygen sensors, ignition coils and sparkplugs, and now a full-scale automotive assembly plant in Williamstown," Rockefeller said. "This is truly a proud day for all West Virginians. We have all worked very hard - government, business and most importantly, West Virginia's workers - to put our state on the map, and it's clear the rest of the world is realizing that West Virginia is a world-class place to do business."

Rockefeller, who has a long history of attracting Japanese investment to West Virginia, first pursued Hino in 2001 and invited the company to participate in an investment seminar in the state. Following their visit, Rockefeller met with Hino officials that same year during a trade mission to Japan where he urged the officials, including current Hino Chairman Jagawa Tadaaki, to consider locating in West Virginia.

Since that time, Rockefeller has continued to encourage Hino to locate a facility here, and has worked with Manchin and others to ensure this day became a reality.

Manchin said the state's strategic location puts Hino's trucks close to the company's customer base in the eastern United States. West Virginia is within overnight shipping distance of more than half the U.S. population.

HMMUSA employs more than 930 employees across the United States and its investment is $321.2 million. Current operations include:

* Company headquarters in Farmington Hills, Mich.

* Component production in Ontario, Calif., for Toyota.

* Component production in Marion, Ark. for Toyota.

* Final stage truck assembly at TABC Inc., in Long Beach, Calif.

Last month, HMMUSA announced it will invest an additional $70 million to add equipment to its 400,000-square-foot Marion, Ark., plant. The plant represents a $230 million investment and employs more than 600 people.

Toyota owns controlling interest of Hino Motors Ltd.

Location: 1000 Innovation Drive, Williamstown
Plant overview: Medium and heavy truck production
Production capacity: 2,500 trucks per year
Site area: 30.35 acres
Investment: $8.6 million
Start of production: November 2007
Employment: Approx. 80

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