ThyssenKrupp Bilstein announces largest expansion yet, 200-plus new jobs

Hamilton’s largest manufacturer, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc., has yet another multi-million expansion project in the works to produce the latest shock absorber technology for its automaker customers.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority on Monday approved state tax breaks for the project valued at nearly $716,000. Hamilton City Council also approved local incentives — a property tax abatement — at its council meeting last Wednesday.

Auto parts supplier ThyssenKrupp Bilstein is expected to add more than 200 new jobs by 2017 at its Bilstein Boulevard plant, generating an additional $9.8 million a year worth of payroll for the city once all the jobs are filled.

Quickly jetting up Hamilton’s list of largest employers, the newest growth plans mark the company’s third expansion since 2011 and its single biggest announcement in that time. Presently, the auto supplier employs 381 people, making it Hamilton’s seventh largest employer.

“We’re building on our activities from the past few years and seeing higher demand from our customers,” said Fabian Schmahl, president and chief executive officer of Bilstein.

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“Overall, we’re growing with our existing customers, with existing technology and new technology,” Schmahl said.

Where prior investments were made to expand the company’s capabilities within its existing walls, the latest expansion confirmed Monday will grow the production floor about 50 percent, Schmahl said.

In 2011, the German-owned company announced a more than $6 million investment in new equipment, completed in 2012, to manufacture real-time damping and other new-technology shock absorbers.

Last year, ThyssenKrupp announced intentions to expand again, and invest approximately $11 million in new equipment and building improvements.

This time, the expansion entails a $26 million investment and a 60,000-square-foot building expansion to add more space on the cramped factory floor. Construction is set to start in August and finish in 2017, Schmahl said. Most of the investment will be spent on new equipment, including more advanced and almost all customized machinery, he said.

“ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America is one of the best examples of a successful high-tech manufacturing company in the entire state of Ohio, and their sustained growth proves that,” said Johnna Reeder, president and chief executive officer of REDI Cincinnati, in a statement. REDI is a private nonprofit responsible for leading the 15-county Cincinnati area’s job creation activities.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved an amendment of Bilstein’s current tax agreement with the state. Bilstein was approved for a 45 percent Ohio Job Creation Tax Credit in July 2013. That credit on Monday was extended two years to expire in 2020, according to Ohio Development Services Agency.

In exchange, the company upped its commitment to create an additional more than 200 jobs, also growing its commitment for new taxable payroll generation and capital investment, according to state records.

Hiring has already started, and available jobs include Computer Numeric Control machine operators, welders, assemblers, team leaders, quality technicians, quality engineers, product engineers, and maintenance workers, Schmahl said.

“We’re constantly hiring right now,” he said.

One way to apply is to search the company’s name online at www.careerbuilder.com or call 513-881-7600.

ThyssenKrupp Bilstein’s North American headquarters are based in Hamilton and operations include locations in California, Michigan and North Carolina. It is a subsidiary of German multinational conglomerate ThyssenKrupp AG.

The auto supplier added 130 full-time Hamilton jobs in 2013.

Running out of manufacturing space on the factory floor, Bilstein last year leased a warehouse for extra space, opening the Bilstein Fulfillment Center on Muhlhauser Road in West Chester Twp. An additional approximately 35 employees are employed at the distribution center.

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