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Wood County officials weigh impact of Hino production pause

PARKERSBURG — When Hino Motors Manufacturing announced it would halt vehicle production in its North American plants, many in Wood County wondered what type of impact this would have on not only the workers of the plant but the financial side of it as well.

The facility is located in Parkersburg where Mayor Tom Joyce said the stoppage won’t impact revenue from the Business and Occupation Tax, which is not assessed on manufacturing, but it will indirectly affect the municipal sales tax.

“These are working people who are not going to be working for a number of months,” Joyce said. “They’re not going to spend as much.

“It’s certainly not good for the city economy, or the county or the Mid-Ohio Valley,” he said. “But most importantly. My heart goes out to the people who work in that facility.”

Joyce said he believes Hino is committed to the facility, the area and its workers and they have smart people working on the problem.

“I think they’ll figure it out,” he said.

Hino announced on Dec. 23 it was halting production until the end of September 2021, due to “following challenges in the required U.S. engine certification testing process for new model years of the AO9C, J08E, and J05E engines for North America.”

Davey Jung, Hino’s executive vice president, corporate, said more details will be announced in the coming weeks.

In regular communication with Hino team members, Jung said it has taken necessary actions to ensure team members will be adequately compensated and will continue to receive medical benefits.

“Our goal is to take care of our team members and minimize the impact this situation may have on them. We are working through specifics, but I’m not able to share details before they are finalized and communicated to employees. We anticipate being able to say more in the coming weeks.” Jung said.

Wood County Commission President Blair Couch shares the same outlook as Joyce. The move was only done as a safety precaution, but Couch is worried about what will happen with workers.

“We really are concerned about the impact it will have on the people that worked out there. The commission is discussing how many work out there? What kind of unemployment they’ll have? Does Hino plan on trying to keep them on to do other things at the facility?,” Couch said. “They’ve made a significant investment in Wood County that goes back 14 years. With the Williamstown facility, then in Mineral Wells, the dollars they have spent here on plant and property have to be in the 50-60-70 million dollar range. So I don’t think Hino is going to walk away from the American market. I look forward to them coming back stronger than ever with great products.”

Hino has spent the last 14 years in Wood County, starting in the plant in Williamstown, before moving to the former Coldwater Creek distribution center.

The plant assembles medium-duty trucks. Hino is part of Toyota Motors Corp. and employs about 450 workers at the plant.

According to Hino, new model year vehicle sales have been postponed and Hino Motors is expected to resume production in October. Hino also is investigating the impact of the pause on earnings.

Jill Parsons, Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley president and CEO, said the announcement was unexpected, but the keyword of the press release she took was that the halt is “temporary.” She remains hopeful a return will be worked out before the proposed start date in September.

“I’m grateful that there is a finite time frame, albeit it, September 2021 is nine months away,” Parsons said. “With that in mind, I am hopeful that the revisions and certification process that they are working on will be completed in a quicker time frame to benefit the affected employees, our community, and the entire Hino Motors family.”

Contact Tyler Bennett at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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