By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
Alabama Cullman Yutaka Technologies plans to add approximately 60 jobs over the next several months, as part of an expansion to increase manufacturing capabilities. The project totals an approximate $12 million in new investment.
The auto component manufacturer recently completed a building expansion in late 2011, and Yutaka Senior VP Jim Willoby said the latest capacity increase stems from an up-tick in orders from customers such as Honda.
“The original purpose of the expansion was to bring in additional business for the Acura MDX, which Honda is transferring from a Canadian plant to Lincoln, Ala. So, we’ll be producing exhaust systems for that new model,” he explained. “Now, we’re also expanding our capacity on a new, six-speed transmission torque converter, and picking up some product from our plant in Ohio, which is over capacity. That is driving a third shift, which hadn’t been planned initially.”
Willoby said hiring has already started, and approximately 60 total jobs will be added. The bulk of positions will revolve around second and third shift production, though a handful of maintenance and engineering positions could also be created.
Though the plant just expanded last year, Willoby said the latest equipment additions put the Cullman facility back at a full production level — meaning any new increases in production could facilitate another expansion.
“When we did the expansion, we expanded to two bays, which was efficient for what we had planned,” he said. “But, at this point, we’ll be full again. Any additional business would require additional expansion, which is a great position to be in.”
Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA) Director Peggy Smith said she was ecstatic to learn the additional manufacturing duties would be moved to Cullman.
“When companies are looking at combinations and moves like that, they always look at all the options, as they should,” she said. “From that standpoint, we’re very grateful the expansion will occur here in the Cullman plant, involving a new investment and new job opportunities for our citizens.”
Dale Greer, CEDA Assistant Director, noted Yutaka’s track record of growth and said he hopes the latest announcement will be one of many.
“This is their fourth or fifth expansion, and some of that is of course the remarkable growth of the automotive industry,” he said. “But, a lot of that is tied to tier-one suppliers, like this one in Cullman, that gives them great parts to work with.”
* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.