Hino announces major “growth” in Wood County

Takashi Ono, president Hino Motors, speaks during a press conference Wednesday at the Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna where he said the company will expand into the former Coldwater Creek building at the business park in Parkersburg. The $100 million project will create 250 new jobs, he said.

VIENNA – Hino Motors USA is moving a truck assembly plant into the old Coldwater Creek distribution center in Parkersburg, a $100 million project that will create 250 jobs by 2020, officials announced Wednesday.

Hino President Takashi Ono said the plant will be operational by 2019 and its proximity to Williamstown will enable Hino “to maintain our current team members.” Hino employs 295 people at the Williamstown plant.

The plant also will house several operations including a cab assembly operation currently in Japan, Ono said. Ono was appointed president in April.

The facility “will be the benchmark of Hino’s global operations,” Ono said.

Representatives of the Wood County Development Corp., Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and local governments joined Hino in a press conference at the Parkersburg Country Club where the corporation approved the sale and Hino discussed its plans to relocate the Williamstown assembly operations, expand its truck manufacturing and assembly operations.

Gov. Jim Justice was scheduled to attend the press conference, but did not attend.

Thrasher said when Hino was ready to consolidate operations in an expanded facility, the state was ready to help find a site. Hino will fill an empty building and create more manufacturing jobs, he said.

Thrasher said Toyota has invested $1.6 billion in West Virginia and created 1,600 jobs, 90 percent of which are in the state. Hino is a Toyota Group company.

“Hino has been a valued member of our business community since 2007,” Thrasher said.

Hino is a Toyota Group company. The announcement about the vacant Coldwater Creek building and Hino follows an announcement on Tuesday when Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia said it was investing $115.3 million at its Buffalo plant in Putnam County to produce the company’s first American-made hybrid transaxles.

It was a bittersweet announcement for Mayor Jean Ford, who looked back at the last 10 years Hino has been in Williamstown. While it could be a loss for Williamstown, the region will gain from the additional jobs and economic development, she said.

“Congratulations Hino,” Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford said. “You’re the best.”

The company is involved in the schools, the police department, numerous community projects and employees helped senior citizens keep their lawns mowed, Ford said.

“We fell in love with Hino,” she said.

The company has yet to decide whether to completely vacate Williamstown, according to Lindsey Kerr Piersol, executive director of the development corporation.

Her comment was confirmed by Ono and Hino Executive Vice President Davey Jung.

The Williamstown building is owned by Hino. The development authority owns the Coldwater Creek building and was liable to pay off the banks that held the paper on the building. Coldwater Creek, a bankrupt marketer of upscale clothing and merchandise, leased the building from the authority.

Hino started truck production in the former Walker Systems building in Williamstown in November 2007. The Williamstown facility was Hino’s first transportation equipment assembly plant in the United States.

Hino Motors produces Class 6 and 7 conventional body style trucks in Williamstown in a building that is 245,000 square feet, the former Walker Systems building.