Development: Hino’s success a model for West Virginia

Economic development officials across the state should have a talk with Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford and the executives at Hino Motors Manufacturing. The message they have for companies looking to expand should drown out all the nonsense and fear circulated — often by West Virginians — about moving in to the Mountain State.

For 10 years — by the way, approximately the same time period during which the decline of the coal industry and the surging opioid epidemic were allegedly leaving West Virginia without enough qualified workers to maintain our reputation as having one of the best work ethics in the country — Hino has grown and thrived in Williamstown. Now with more than 300 employees, the manufacturer has expanded to the point that one employee said “there’s just not much more space here to build out.”

During what could have been a challenging period for Hino, too (a financial crisis in Japan, an earthquake and tsunami, and a historically strong Yen), “this West Virginia plant steadily increased its production,” according to Yoshinori Noguchi, CEO of Hino North American Operations. In fact, Noguchi thanked state government, the local community, customers, suppliers and, of course, the “team members” who have worked hard every day for ten years to achieve a 500 percent increase in production.

Williamstown and the Mid-Ohio Valley provided the location, the resources and the workforce to help Hino not only achieve its goals here, but far exceed them. In turn, Hino has become an important part of life in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“They’re so involved in helping the community. We truly love the company,” said Ford. “I wish that other companies across the world would take their example and also look to us to invest and set up shop.”

Maybe, if the rest of us can share this kind of success story, they will.

Spread the word, folks. West Virginia is ready to welcome companies into their communities; willing and able to provide the kind of ready-to-learn, ready-to-work employees who can take your missions to the next level.