WILLIAMSTOWN -With the latest announcement of Hino Motors Manufacturing USA expanding the local truck plant, the facility hopes to further bond with the Mid-Ohio Valley community.
"We are excited the production volumes are where they are and look forward to being able to expand that," said Sandy Ring, vice president of administration and strategic planning and general counsel for Hino.
The plant is building 35 to 37 trucks per day, five days a week, which is up from the less than 20 trucks per day built last year.
"Last year's numbers were out of our hands," Ring said. "Because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last spring, we could not get the parts we needed, so we had to cut back drastically and reduce the daily volume by quite a bit."
The current production numbers are the highest capacity for the plant since the facility opened in 2007.
"We are excited the production volumes are where they are and we are pleased with the great partnerships we have in the Mid-Ohio Valley and with West Virginia," Ring said.
The Williamstown facility makes all of the Hino Motors trucks sold in the United States with a dealership network of about 135 location.
"This is the manufacturing facility for the entire country and we ship the trucks made in Williamstown all over, which is something to be proud of," Ring said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia on Wednesday announced Hino was investing another $6 million, $3 million directly into the plant. Of the new $6 million investment to area, the 20 new full-time jobs expected will be first open to those already in the Hino Motors workforce.
Since the increase in production began in January, the Williamstown plant has hired a number of part-time employees.
"Part-timers will be the first consideration for permanent positions when those open up," Ring said. "That is the plan in hiring people at a part-time level to create a workforce that knows how to build our product and have them available when needed."
Employees at the local plant have been working overtime almost daily since production has increased. Ring said the investment will also aid with that issue.
"People have been working overtime and that is part of what the investment will allow," he said. "To reduce or completely eliminate overtime is the goal."
Half of the investment in the company will be directly invested in the Williamstown facility with new machinery and other improvements to make the plant more efficient.
If the plant needs to hire more, it will be through Manpower in Parkersburg, which is how it has hired all local employees since the company moved to the Mid-Ohio Valley. Interested job seekers are asked to check periodically with Manpower for updates on Hino's hiring status, Ring said.
"With the Hino Motors investments, hopefully the economy gets stronger and we get past this soft period to see continued growth, not only for Hino, but for the country as a whole," Ring said.