UGN joins region’s rebounding auto industry with plant opening

Automotive supplier UGN Inc. recently opened a new manufacturing plant in Monroe that will make interior vehicle parts to supply its customer Honda of America, but the new location has already won business to supply Subaru as well, UGN Chief Executive Officer Peter Anthony said Wednesday during a grand opening celebration for the new facility.

UGN’s newest plant in Monroe makes acoustic insulation, carpet and underfloor parts with technologies new to the United States, according to the company.

After completing construction on the $50 million, 232,000-square-foot plant this year on Exploration Drive in Monroe in the Park North industrial business park, about 120 workers have been hired. Plans are to hire another 30 or so people by the end of the year as more work transfers to the Warren County plant from another UGN site, Anthony said.

“We will be a good member of the Monroe community and we will continue to add jobs here at this facility,” Anthony said.

Employees are currently producing parts that will appear on a new 2016 model of the Honda Civic, Anthony said. New contracts secured for future Honda, Subaru and other automaker models mean hiring is likely to grow in coming years too even as the plant is just getting started, he said.

“This is a huge coup to get an automotive tier 1 supplier like this,” said Karsten Sommer, manager of finance for the area economic development agency REDI Cincinnati.

Illinois-based UGN joins a growing list of expanding auto suppliers in the region.

“With this grand opening and additional recent announcements in the automotive space, it highlights Warren County’s position inside a region centered at the heart of this rebounding automotive landscape,” said Martin Russell, the county’s economic development and port authority director.

Brake parts maker ADVICS Manufacturing Ohio of Lebanon already has a building expansion due to be completed this year, but is planning another $6.4 million, 144,00-square-foot expansion that's yet to start, based on August financing documents from the Warren County Port Authority.

Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies of Franklin has also stated plans to grow. Faurecia expected to add new production lines that has the potential to create about 120 new jobs.

Also, Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America Inc. in Mason was set to break ground in March to add 156,000-square-feet of more manufacturing space onto its existing 400,000-square-foot Bethany Road factory, according to the city. Approximately 100 new full-time jobs are supposed to be created as a result and more than 450 jobs retained, according to Mason officials.

ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc. in July 2014 revealed plans for its third expansion since 2011, and the largest one yet. The $26 million project includes a building expansion and investment in new, more advanced equipment. Expectations are to create more than 200 new jobs at the Hamilton maker of shock absorbers by 2017.

National auto sales climbed for five consecutive years in 2014 to 16.5 million new vehicles sold.