Japanese-affiliated automotive supplier Green Tokai Co. Ltd. will expand its flagship plant in Brookville, Ohio, after having considered alternatives for several years.
The Brookville-based company, a maker of plastic and rubber window seals and exterior trim, will add 26,000 square feet to the existing plant and install new injection presses and plastic and rubber extrusion equipment, said John Wilson, finance director.
The $14 million expansion will start in May and last through 1999, Wilson said. Most of the equipment, except for one plastic extrusion line, will be added this summer, he said. That line will be installed in 1999.
The firm had looked at other options, including a new plant in northern Ohio, before settling on expanding its main facility. In addition, the supplier had invested close to $10 million in 1996 to expand its second, 208,000-square-foot plant in Maysville, Ky.
Green Tokai primarily makes parts for Honda of America Manufacturing Inc.'s plant in Marysville, Ohio; Toyota Motor Manufacturing Inc. in Georgetown, Ky.; and Cami Automotive Inc., a joint venture between General Motors Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp.
Both the Honda and Toyota plants also have gone through major expansion programs the past few years as manufacturing was shifted from Japan. That led to Green Tokai's decision to expand, Wilson said.
``We've been able to get a decided amount of business from those plants,'' Wilson said. ``They're doing well expanding product lines and introducing new platforms. We've picked up new contracts as a result.''
Green Tokai began in 1988 as a joint venture between Tokai Kogyo, a producer of plastic and rubber auto parts near Nagoya, Japan, and Ernie Green Industries Inc. of Dayton, Ohio. Green dropped out in 1991, and Tokai now owns 100 percent of the company, Wilson said.
The company, which has grown from $44 million in sales in 1995 to $65 million last year, expects sales to swell to about $85 million in fiscal 1999.
The firm will shift warehousing operations to the expanded site. The facility, which currently has 273,000 square feet, will add eight injection presses of various tonnages, two plastics extrusion lines and one rubber extrusion line.
Wilson declined to specify the clamping forces of the new presses.
The plant will add about 75 employees this summer and another 75 next year, Wilson said. The hirings will push employee totals at the two plants to 745.
The state of Ohio has given Green Tokai a five-year, $1.5 million loan at 4 percent interest to help finance the expansion.
The company also is picking up new injection molding work. Recently, Green Tokai was awarded contracts to make underbody panels for front spoilers and exterior rocker panels.
The company also produces extruded window moldings and belt weatherstripping, and injection molded body side moldings and chin spoilers.
The expansion follows a growth pattern among Japanese-affiliated suppliers, said Etsuko Barrows, a consultant with automotive research firm Elm Group International Inc. in East Lansing, Mich. Since 1995, Japanese-affiliated parts makers have built about 40 new manufacturing facilities in North America, Barrows said.
In the past three years, about 25 new Japanese-affiliated suppliers also have opened shop in North America, she said. Close to 300 companies with Japanese parents now operate in North America, she added.
``They are thinking more globally,'' Barrows said. ``The domestic industry in Japan has slowed down, and these companies are ready to look for business outside their own country. They need to do that to survive.''