Yamada adds 40 jobs, 2 production lines

A South Charleston manufacturer will add two production lines and hire as many as 40 employees as the auto industry continues to recover from the Great Recession.

Yamada North America Inc. has more than doubled its workforce in recent years. It supplies oil pumps, water pumps, steering components and other parts for automakers like Honda that have seen increasing demand for new vehicles, said Marc Murray, vice president of Yamada North America Inc.

The company underwent a $6.5 million expansion two years ago and added about 30 percent more space to its existing facility near Ohio 42. The company added two new production lines at that time.

Yamada is now adding one more line in its steel department and another in its aluminum department. It’s also considering adding a third new production line by the end of next year.

“We’re going to be increasing our head count about 40 people here in the next few months,” Murray said.

In 2010 the company had about 310 employees but has now has about 600 workers, he said. The new positions will be in the production area, including jobs like machining, assembly positions and maintenance and engineering support.

County documents show the company has far outpaced expected growth in recent years, despite the recession. Yamada was projected to create about 30 jobs as part of an expansion that received a 10-year, 100 percent tax abatement with Clark County in 2004, but instead created 233 jobs, according to documents obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.

The manufacturer has added nearly 200 jobs since its 2012 expansion, not including the additional 40 it plans to add this year. The new production lines would fill the space Yamada created as part of that expansion.

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with Yamada to help the company locate qualified employees, said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the chamber.

Yamada also has a good team that actively combs the region for potential employees, she said, and many of the new positions are good-paying jobs that demand specific skills.

“Obviously they’re a priority for us because they’re a growing company and the auto industry right now has turned around,” Donahoe said. “They’re definitely on our radar.”

The company also sells service parts to Honda, and that portion of the company’s business grew during the recession as consumers tried to repair their vehicles to ensure they lasted longer.

“After the Great Recession, Honda sales and Subaru sales have been increasing,” Murray said.

The company weathered tough times along with the recession, including an earthquake and tsunami in Japan that rattled the auto industry.

“We have a policy that we do not want to devalue our associates by laying them off,” Murray said. “So we maintained all of our full-time associates, even though we did not have enough business to keep all of them on. Our commitment was to our full-time staff.”

Yamada has benefited as Honda has increased production in North America and has seen an increase in demand in exports, said Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst for IHS Automotive.

“It’s two-fold,” Brinley said. “Yes, the U.S. market is getting stronger but we’ve also got more export opportunities. And as they regionalize production here the suppliers are going to benefit.”

The company was incorporated in 1989 and will celebrate its 25th anniversary this weekend from 9 a.m. to noon.