MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. — Hino Trucks ushered in a new era of manufacturing in West Virginia on Wednesday with a major investment.
The Japan-based maker of trucks and motors announced an additional $40 million investment in their Mineral Wells assembly plant, adding 250 new jobs, during its grand opening ceremony of the manufacturing facility that already employs nearly 500 people.
“They could have gone other places in the country but I think they found out that the work ethic they found in West Virginia is solid and dependable and as a result, now you are seeing an additional investment,” 1st District Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.) told the media.
“All we can hope for is even more but you have to thank the workers. They made the difference in this decision.”
Hino has invested $100 million into the 962,000 square foot facility, roughly four times larger than their previous manufacturing building in Williamstown.
Steve Stalnaker, a senior vice president for Hino and plant manager of the manufacturing facility has told MetroNews the new facility will produce an XL series of trucks that will move the plant to the Class 8 commercial market, which is the largest class in the commercial market.
He added tandem axels will also be able to be produced at the new facility, which has been moved in since late April. The Williamstown plant produced Class 6 and 7 commercial market trucks and only single rear axles.
Lindsey Piersol, Executive Director of the Wood County Economic Development, told MetroNews it’s hard to put into words the tax and workforce impact that Hino brings to the area with high paying jobs and workers coming from contiguous counties.
She added that Hino kept their old facility so there is not a vacant one.
“I know everyone is as proud of Hino as I am,” she said. “A lot of these folks, especially Sen. (Shelley) Capito and Sen. (Joe) Manchin, have been here since they came to the Williamstown plant. I think everyone is excited to see how well they have done and I think you’ll hear more exciting news soon and watch them continue to grow.”
Manchin, Capito and Gov. Jim Justice joined McKinley, Piersol, local officials like Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce, and other guests on tours of the plant. After the tours, a cherry blossom tree planting ceremony took place followed by a formal ceremony where the additional investment announcement took place.
Joyce said Parkersburg uses Hino Trucks and has a new one on the way as he told MetroNews he was impressed and appreciative of the big moment.
“To know there are folks that worked so hard behind the scenes for so many years to make this happen for the state of West Virginia and more particularly Parkersburg and the Mid Ohio-Valley, it’s humbling. I mean it’s a big deal and the impact is substantial,” he said.
Production at the Williamstown facility began in July 2007, which started with only 70 employees. The new facility can produce 15,000 trucks a year on one shift.
Hino officials said right now workers are only on one shift but there is a possibility of expanding to two shifts with the announcement.
Hino has seven different types of facilities in the U.S. but Mineral Wells is the only assembly plant.
McKinley said the numbers and investments come down to the workforce of the state.
“Since they’ve located here, their productivity has increased 15-percent You know what it is going to do,” he said.
“They are going to send the message back to other manufacturers and say look at West Virginia. It’s a workforce that shows up on time and delivers a product.”