Nearly one year to the day after auto parts maker H.A. Parts Products of Indiana Company (HAPPICO) handed over operations of its Greencastle plant to Chiyoda USA, company officials welcomed the official open house of the facility on Wednesday.
The gala event was marked with music, food and tours of the plant and was attended by several hundred people, including plant employees, Chiyoda management and local dignitaries.
The opening program included several congratulatory speeches from officials with Chiyoda's Ota City, Japan headquarters along with local plant managers and city leaders including Greencastle Mayor Nancy Michael.
Those who attended were given an opportunity to tour the 413,000-square-foot factory that houses injection molding and painting equipment for various car parts.
The Greencastle plant of 200 employees manufactures 17 different plastic and electrical parts for Subaru vehicles, including roof molding, rear spoilers, trunk and fuel covers, side molding and bumper covers. The parts are molded, painted, inspected and shipped from the Greencastle site to the Subaru SIA manufacturing plant in Lafayette.
Under HAPPICO ownership, the Greencastle plant employed approximately 500 people and made parts for Nissan and Subaru vehicles.
Chiyoda's Greencastle plant is one of three that it owns in the United States. The other plants are located in Lincoln, Neb. and Lagrange, Ga.
Established in Japan in 1961, Chiyoda's Nitta Plant houses 350 employees and makes parts for Subaru, Honda, Diatsu and others. The company posted sales of nearly $15 million in 2005 and projects sales of near $25 million in '06.
Greencastle Plant Manager Ken Sese called Wednesday's open house a "pep session" stating that the plant was in full operation and seeking to grow its customer base.
"We have worked very hard to get to this day," Sese told the BannerGraphic after the ceremony.
Right now the plant strictly manufactures parts to the Subaru plant in Lafayette, but Sese is optimistic about the future of that and other potential relationships.
In March, Subaru officials in Lafayette announced a $230 million investment to bring manufacturing of the Toyota Camry to that plant by next spring. Sese said he hopes the Greencastle plant will be in a position to benefit from Lafayette's expansion.
"We intend to grow," he said.
Sese said the reason for the open house was to officially let everyone know that Chiyoda is up and running and happy to be a part of the Greencastle community.
"We have all worked together to bring this plant together, and we are ready to promote challenges," Sese said. "We want to thank the community and Mayor Nancy Michael for their support."