Parts for Toyota, Nissan, Honda
American Howa to open second U.S. plant
Car-parts manufacturer American Howa is warming up its engines at a new plant in Delaware, Ohio.
The maker of interior car parts — such as roof liners, dash insulators, sun shades and felt blends — has begun making trial parts at its new facility at 222 Stover Drive in Delaware’s Johnson Drive Industrial Parkway. The company supplies parts to Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other car manufacturers.
American Howa, which began operations in Japan in 1955, opened a plant in Bowling Green, Ky., in November 2007.
“In Delaware, we’ll be making roof liners for the Honda Accord,” Howa spokesman Tom Kiely said. “The roof liners weigh quite a bit, so shipping costs were certainly a factor in our decision to locate a plant close to Honda in Union County.”
Kiely said company officials were interested in the six-acre site in the industrial park not only for its proximity to Honda but also for its easy access to U.S. Route 42 and the proposed Sawmill Parkway intersection.
The company’s plant in Kentucky has experienced impressive growth over the past four years. Its initial building was 82,000 square feet and created 61 full-time jobs. A recent $11.5-million expansion increased the square footage to 194,000 and the company now employs 110 associates with plans to hire several dozen more by the end of the summer.
Kiely said the Delaware plant will employ as many as 70 workers.
“When I was doing my research for this new plant, I looked at Union County, of course, as well as Madison, Logan and Delaware (counties),” he said. “Delaware had just the demographics I was looking for and the facility really fit our needs.”
What were Delaware’s advantageous demographics?
“It’s a little less rural than Union County, for starters,” Kiely said. “And we can draw from the workforce not only in southern Delaware County but also in northern Franklin County. There is a higher population density and we can draw from a large pool of qualified candidates.”
Lee Yoakum, community affairs coordinator for the city of Delaware, said officials are pleased to welcome American Howa to the city.
“This is another positive example of Delaware’s regional strength as a manufacturing hub and as an attractive location in which to live and do business,” he said.
The Delaware plant is American Howa’s second in the U.S. It also has four plants in Japan, three in China, one in Thailand and a research and development office in Detroit.
The 34,925-square-foot Stover Drive building was foreclosed on in 2009. American Howa purchased the building in last summer from Advantage Bank for approximately $1.18 million.
“The bottom line is that this is not only exciting news for the city on the jobs front,” Yoakum said. “It is also exciting that American Howa is reusing an existing, vacant building.”
Kiely said the new plant will continue to manufacture trial parts throughout the spring before launching mass production at the end of July. The company is staffing the plant through area employment agencies.