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Truck maker investing $8M in W.Va. expansion

WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. — A Williamstown manufacturing plant will be expanding its operations.

Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc. confirmed Thursday it is investing around $8 million at its truck assembly facility in Wood County.

The company will be adding 30,000 square feet to its building, as well as a new breakroom, a dedicated training facility, or “dojo building,” and a standalone Quality Control testing center, company officials said.

Construction on the expansion is expected to be completed in the fall.

“In January we launched the 2016 Model Year truck, and it has been very well received in the market,” said Steve Stalnaker, Hino vice president and plant manager. “As production and headcount have increased, we need the additional space to accommodate current operations, as well as have future flexibility to add various processes to meet a greater range of customer demands.”

The matter was an agenda item for the West Virginia Economic Development Authority Board of Directors meeting held Thursday. The board was scheduled to talk about the issue in executive session.

State officials were happy with the commitment made by the company.

“I am grateful for the investments Hino Motors continues to make in West Virginia,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. “I am proud our strong business climate and skilled workforce has provided them with the opportunities to expand their manufacturing operations in the Mountain State. I look forward to maintaining this strong partnership and celebrating continued positive growth for years to come.”

Hino employs roughly 225 people at the Williamstown plant. The new investment is expected to, over time, create another 50 permanent full-time positions, officials said.

Cam Huffman, president of the Area Roundtable in Wood County, said this was a project, referred to locally as “Project 77,” that has been in the works for a while.

Officials had been looking at the Williamstown property to see how the expansion could fit on the existing facility’s footprint and if more space would be needed, Huffman said.

As a result of the additional manufacturing space and new buildings, Hino expects to lease from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority property adjacent to its current footprint.

In addition, Hino will make improvements to the properties, including building a berm between the facility and an adjacent neighborhood, adding parking spaces, and moving light poles.

”Everything is now pushing forward,” Huffman said.

With this investment, the company has reaffirmed its commitment to this area, officials said.

Hino’s market share continues to grow, Huffman said

”It is a well-liked product,” he said. ”As the demand for their trucks increases so does the need to produce them out of this plant.”

Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford knew the company was working on expanding, but did not know the details of what it would entail.

She is pleased that the company decided to make a significant investment in the local plant.

”It is wonderful,” she said. ”I am very excited they are going to do this.”

Hino coming to Williamstown has been one of the greatest things to happen to this area in a while, the mayor said.

”They have been good to do business with,” she said. ”They have shown a real interest in the community.”

The company is a Partner in Education with Williamstown Elementary School and is involved in other aspects of the community.

Ford said there is always so much talk of companies leaving the United States and going elsewhere.

Hino’s success in Williamstown shows what can happen when a company comes to the United States, she said.

”We are really proud of them,” the mayor said.

Hino’s top leadership is pleased with how the plant in Williamstown has performed. “I want to really thank our Team Members for their hard work and dedication,” said Kazuhiro Somiya, president of Hino. “No matter the production volume, our Team Members safely build quality in to every truck that rolls off the line. Hino’s success is a testament to their efforts every day.”

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