CAPAC — Village officials, local business owners and industry partners got their first glimpse of the nearly complete Keihin Michigan Manufacturing plant on Friday.
The Japanese auto parts company hosted a open house at their new Koehn Rd. facility that included a luncheon and plant tour.
Dave Thomas, vice president of operations, said Keihin wanted to thank "the village and all the people who have welcomed us here and supported us the most."
Keihin associate Amiee Robinson explains the workings of fuel injectors to Capac councilmember Marsha Libkie, clerk Candy Franckowiak (not pictured) and zoning administrator Linda Knop. photo by Maria Brown.
The community's support has been crucial considering company officials only visited the village a mere 11 months ago and since then have purchased 27 acres, built a 120,000 square foot plant and are well on their way to hiring 160 associates by the end of this year.
"We have been pleased to work with you as a team to accomplish our goals," President Shigeru Iwaki said.
Keihin has plans to produce 680,000 intake manifold assembles and 200,000 HVAC systems for the Honda Motor Company.
A handful of associates demonstrated how the plant's fuel injector base assembly line operated. It was one of the first new lines to be set up at the plant. From there, the bases will move onto another line where they're assembled to the manifold body.
Plant manager Kevin Mitchell said four-cylinder parts will be focus of the Capac facility.
Technicians were still fine-tuning the HVAC assembly line but were planning to begin testing it early this week.
At the moment, all lines are only producing test parts. Iwaki said plastic production should be up and running by April.
Tom Barrett, vice president of Cawood Auto, a Honda dealership in Port Huron, was impressed with the Keihin facility.
"I've never seen anything like a Honda (supplier) plant," Barrett said.
"Employees have the power to push the button to stop the line to tighten something down. They are empowered to do that."
Visitors also had the chance to see some of the plant's technologically advanced systems outside of the assembly lines. Keihin has utilized digital lighting which will conserve energy and "give our operators the best lighting." The plant will also recycle the air compressor heat, by pumping it back into the heating system.
Also on display was a Honda Civic sedan, courtesy of the Cawood. Seventy percent of the car's parts are domestically made, Thomas said.
Thomas said Keihin's relationship with the community and village will continue to be vibrant.
"We want to be a good corporate citizen," he said.
"We're working to always fufill that obligation."
Thomas listed their involvement with the school district, hiring of local contractors and employees and their rental of offices downtown for several months.
"We look forward to a long and continued relationship," Thomas said.
Keihin will continue to take applications at any of the area Michigan WORKS! offices.