DENSO plan includes Maryville
By Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee facilities in Maryville are expected to benefit from part of a $1 billion investment in North American operations announced Tuesday at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
Automotive supplier DENSO Corp. plans to invest nearly $1 billion in North America over the next four years, bringing with it more than 2,000 jobs.
The good news for Blount County is that some of that investment, and presumably jobs, will be coming to Maryville.
“Last year, we announced that DENSO will drastically localize product in the regions in which we operate,” said Terry Helgesen, senior vice president of industry relations at DENSO International America Inc., in a news release. “Not only are we making products in North America, but we’re also localizing critical tooling.”
In the U.S., DENSO is looking at investing more than $750 million in Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa, California and North Carolina. The investment represents an increase in research and development, an expansion in existing production lines, the creation of new production lines, and the opening a new assembly and warehouse facility to support its “heavy duty” customers.
Jack Helmboldt, executive vice president for the company’s Maryville operations and a corporate senior director of DENSO Corp., said the full increase in employment and investment in Blount County is still being calculated.
“It is a matter of making sure we have all of our investment and head count correct so we don’t give out false information,” he said.
Not only does the investment represent a localization of technology, but DENSO is also investing in making more of its own manufacturing equipment and dies in Maryville. The company has dedicated a building at DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, where proprietary machinery will be made. This will serve as the regional headquarters for manufacturing machinery and dies. However, DENSO will make machinery in other regional locations as well.
“We are extremely excited about the growth we are going to have in the Tennessee operations,” Helmboldt said, adding that the company’s Maryville operations with four plants has become one of its largest international facilities outside of Japan.
The company’s Athens facility will also receive a boost. The company will hire more than 130 people and invest more than $50 million at the facility there.
“That is already happening,” Helmboldt said.
The investment will not only benefit the company’s operations but local businesses, too.
“We are expanding our machinery and tool division tremendously,” Helmboldt said. “All of our equipment and dies are going to be made in North America. There will be several millions of dollars we’ll be sending out to local machine shops and that will increase jobs for them.”
Bryan Daniels, Blount Partnership president/CEO, praised DENSO’s plan to boost production in East Tennessee.
“This is outstanding news for Blount County manufacturing. Now that production at DENSO is in full production, a position it has been over the last 18 months, the opportunity for continued job growth among skilled workers in the area is growing as the start/stop technology and tool and die fixtures at DENSO have been centralized at its Maryville facility.
“Over the last few months, DENSO has created more than 200 jobs which means that 1,750 new jobs have entered Blount County over the past two years. Blount County is seeing employment levels back to prerecession numbers.”
During his speech at the Detroit Auto Show, Helmboldt talked about some of the product lines coming to Maryville.
“Growth over the next few years will be tremendous,” he said. “With upcoming fuel economy requirements, automakers are looking for more ways to improve fuel economy. One of these products features stop/start technology. In Maryville, our Starter/Alternator Division began producing stop/start starters last June.
“We are also localizing our high-output alternators. At last year’s auto show news conference, we announced that we’d produce some hybrid components in the U.S. In our Electronics Division in Maryville, we’ll be manufacturing inverters in 2014.
“We will also be making head-up displays for a North American customer at Maryville’s Instrument Cluster Division — due to hit roads later this year. Ultimately, we will export this technology to other regions of the world.
“In our Body Electronics Division, our growth will come from memory-seat modules and passive entry — passive start technology for another North American customer.”