September 12, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Auto Parts Supplier Coming to Shoals

By Bernie Delinski
The Times Daily
Jim Hannon/TimesDaily
Gov. Robert Bentley shows Melanie Hart, TASUS company president, the company’s location on a Seal of Alabama plaque he gave to her during an announcement ceremony for the company at its Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Park site Tuesday.

FLORENCE — Japanese auto parts supplier TASUS Corp. announced plans Tuesday to build a plant at the Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Park in a $19.1 million investment that will provide 135 jobs.

The company, which is a major supplier for North American Lighting’s Muscle Shoals plant, will start with about 15 employees at a temporary site in November, TASUS President Melanie Hart said. She said plans call for the 104,000-square-foot permanent structure to be in operation by October 2013.

“Most of the parts (produced) here will be for Nissan and Toyota,” Hart said.

Koichi Ohara, the president of TASUS’ parent company, Tsuchiya Co. Ltd., said he was impressed during recruiting visits to the Shoals.

“It’s a great pleasure to announce that TASUS Corp. is establishing this company in Florence, Alabama,” Ohara told a crowd during a ceremony at the Parkway Drive site where the plant will be built. “It’s our plan that this company will become an important part of this community and its goals.”

About 65 percent of the 135 jobs will be entry-level positions, Hart said. Those jobs will start at $10 per hour and include a benefits package.

A release on TASUS’ website, tasus.com, Tuesday afternoon states the company will begin hiring for positions such as production team members, shift supervisors and maintenance and tooling technicians as early as this month. The company will hire all 135 workers over the next three to five years.

Hart said anyone interested in applying can do so online at hrtex@tasus.com.

She said the University of North Alabama played a role in their decision because college towns are preferred when TASUS considers expansions.

“We like diversity, we like a culture that’s open, a learning community,” Hart said. “At TASUS, our attitude is that we never, ever stop learning, and we want a community with that same attitude.”

In introducing Ohara, Florence Mayor Bobby Irons said Shoals officials visited TASUS operations in Bloomington, Ind., and Georgetown, Texas, and company officials visited the Shoals. Irons said the company left a big impression.

“After these visits, we realized quickly this is an extremely successful company, one that we wanted in the community,” Irons said. “They are a quality company with strong executive leadership and they will certainly be a great asset to the Shoals.”

Hart said company officials were pleased by the friendly nature of Shoals residents and the fact that the community made it clear they were interested in the company.

She said during one visit, she became lost and a man who was mowing his lawn asked if she needed help. He then went out of his way to make sure to help her out. She said left a positive impression on her about the area.

“Who wouldn’t want to be in Florence, Alabama?” Hart asked the crowd, which responded with a rousing round of applause. “I already love it here and look forward to coming back.”

The temporary facility where production will begin in November is on Wall Street, just off Helton Drive, said Forrest Wright, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority.

The permanent facility will be on Parkway Drive, near the Gerrard Drive intersection. Wright said the land will cost less than $200,000. He said local officials are negotiating on the land cost, so they can purchase it and provide it to TASUS at no cost.

TASUS’ parent company is Tsuchiya Co. Ltd., in Nagoya, Japan. It produces plastic automotive parts and has clients that include most major North American automobile manufacturers.

Gov. Robert Bentley told TASUS and Tsuchiya officials at the announcement that they made a good decision in coming to Alabama. The state is No. 5 in the nation in automotive manufacturing, Bentley said. He said he expects Alabama soon will move up to No. 3.

“No company is any better than its employees and I can tell you in Alabama you will have the best employes in the world,” Bentley said.

Rather than a standard ground breaking, TASUS officials planted a camellia tree, since their bloom produces Alabama’s official state flower. Hart said the camellia is from the camellia japonica, which was named in Japan in 1793.

In addition, TASUS and Tsuchiya officials presented local officials with vases as gifts. In return, Bentley gave Ohara cuff links and a plaque of the Great Seal of Alabama. Local officials also handed out pins containing Alabama and Japanese flags.

TASUS began operations in Bloomington nearly 40 years after Tsuchiya was formed. The facility serves as the company’s American headquarters. TASUS produces about 52 million plastic automotive components each year, according to a release from Bentley’s office.

SEDA board chairman Frank Patterson pointed out this is the latest in a string of positive news regarding job creation in the area. He said projects from new or existing industries over the past two months are expected to create more than 600 jobs and a combined capital investment of more than $100 million.

Those include expansion announcements from Wise Alloys, Walgreens Customer Care Center and Firestone Building Products, Patterson said.

Without elaborating, Patterson said he anticipates more good news. “There are a lot of other things on the drawing board that are going to create a lot of great opportunities.”

Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.

Company profile

Founded: TASUS was founded in 1986 in Bloomington, Ind., as a subsidiary of Tsuchiya Co. Ltd., which was formed in Nagoya, Japan, in 1950.

Tsuchiya operations: 23 companies at 32 sites spread throughout eight countries. The Florence plant announced Tuesday will be the third TASUS plant in the United States. The others are TASUS’ home office in Bloomington, Ind., and a site in Georgetown, Texas.

Annual sales: $1 billion globally

Products: Interior and exterior trim, fluid reservoirs and air management, as well as components for lighting, climate control, engine/drive trains, air management and audio/acoustic features

Employees: About 2,500 globally



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