Local leaders offered congratulations to Honda's Marysville auto plant last week, when the company reached a significant milestone. The plant became the first outside of Japan to manufacture 10-million vehicles.

Local leaders offered congratulations to Honda's Marysville auto plant last week, when the company reached a significant milestone. The plant became the first outside of Japan to manufacture 10-million vehicles.

"Honda has impacted our community and our state in many positive ways," said Union County commissioner Tom McCarthy. "Reaching this milestone is just one measure of the quality of their automobiles and the workmanship of Honda associates."

The milestone vehicle, a Honda Accord sedan, rolled off the line July 20. Honda began local auto production at the Marysville plant in November 1982 with an Accord sedan, according to spokesman Ron Lietzke, and has continued producing that model along with various others.

Economic development director Eric Phillips said Honda has invested in Union County in many ways.

"Honda of America has brought over 8,000 jobs to Union County through its Marysville Auto Plant and Raymond Research and Development facility," Phillips said. "In addition to these jobs, Honda continues to invest into its numerous facilities to make them the most advanced automotive manufacturing venues in the world."

"Production of this 10-millionth automobile is the result of the shared commitment to our customers, demonstrated over the past 28 years by all of the associates who have worked at the Marysville Auto Plant through the years," said Hidenobu Iwata, president and CEO of Honda of America Mfg., and leader of Honda's production operations in North America. "With the support of many other Honda business units, domestic suppliers and our other business partners, Honda associates have demonstrated many times their ability to overcome great challenges and to improve Honda's competitive characteristics."

The milestone Accord was marked with a magnetic sign, and associates followed its progress through the production unit until it came off the assembly line as a completed product, according to Lietzke. Once completed, it was moved into the plant's west cafeteria to be displayed next to the first generation of the Accord produced at the plant.

Plant manager Sam Harpest said the event was a display of the dedication of Honda associates.

"I am very proud of the MAP team, and I know firsthand that each associate cares deeply about the production that goes out the door," Harpest said. "This is a direct reflection of the dedication shared by all Honda associates who have supported production at this plant."

Almost all Accords sold in North America are manufactured at the Marysville plant, with more than 8.5-million vehicles produced on a cumulative basis, according to Lietzke. The TL, RDX and Accord Coupe are manufactured there exclusively, and some V-6 Accord Sedans are produced at Honda's auto plant in Alabama.

McCarthy said several years ago Honda stepped in when jobs were in danger of leaving the county.

"I can remember a time at the end of the 1970s when people were leaving Union County as Rockwell closed up and other industries laid people off," McCarthy said. "Honda has created lasting opportunities for families and we are proud they call Union County home."

The Marysville Auto Plant was ranked fourth in North America in the 2010 Initial Quality Survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

Along with its automobile manufacturing outfits, Honda has established research & development and engineering operations in Ohio, Lietzke said, along with a regional parts distribution center and other operations that support Honda's manufacturing and sales in North America. Throughout those operations, Honda employs 13,500 Ohioans.

Honda began business in America in 1959, and now operates 14 manufacturing facilities in North America, according to Lietzke, producing a range of Honda and Acura automobiles, engines and automatic transmissions, all-terrain vehicles, and power equipment such as lawn mowers. The company employs more than 26,000 associates nationwide.