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Aisin group's home court advantage

Mar 05, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

As more Japanese automotive suppliers head to the Hoosier State, AISIN Group has called Indiana home for nearly 30 years, giving it the advantage of local market knowledge.

However, the past few years have not been without challenges for the global automotive industry. To adjust to ever-changing market demands, the Japanese company modified its production strategy.

“In the last five to seven years, we made some very good strides in growing our business in North America. We are continuing to grow and develop our R&D ability, and this growth is supported by our

AISIN World Corp. of America President and CEO Scott Turpin

technical center and a 950- acre test track and proving grounds in Michigan. And we represent a pretty strong piece of the overall AISIN puzzle,” AISIN World Corp. of America President and CEO Scott Turpin said.

In North America, AISIN has facilities in 36 locations and accounts for around 16 percent of global operations. The sixth-largest tier one supplier in the world, it is also the largest manufacturer of automotive transmissions.

With operations concentrated in Michigan and Indiana, AISIN, which also has facilities in several other states, has a big impact on the Midwest’s economy.

Its recent $31 million factory expansion in Seymour added more than 200 jobs. In Crothersville, a $16 million expansion at Aisin Drivetrain, Inc., will create 50 new jobs.

“Working with the Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and receiving support from the state and local community dictated our actions in locating additional business and expanding here in Indiana. It’s a win-win situation not only for AISIN, but also for the state, our communities and the customers that support our businesses. We are very happy to call the Midwest, and specially Indiana, ‘home,’” said Turpin, who stays on top of the ever evolving automotive industry.

“Coming from an engineering background, anything technology driven is always very interesting to me. My excitement is really driven by those ‘wow’ products. They don’t happen very often but when they do, it’s a very exciting thing,” Turpin also said.

“We’re poised to provide another set of industry-leading products as the industry evolves,” he added.

Ryobi leads the OEM pack

Mar 05, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

Unlike its Japanese counterparts, Ryobi Die Casting ventured into the United States at the request of its “Detroit Three” American customers. The move allowed Ryobi to quickly build a reputation among U.S. original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as a trusted partner for complex aluminum die cast parts in the automotive sector. Two of the “Detroit Three” are still Ryobi’s largest customers.

“We are known in the industry to have high-quality dies that produce very high-quality parts,” said Ryobi Die Casting USA President Tom Johnson, who has been with the company since 1985 and has seen

Ryobi Die Casting's vehicle subframes and structural components

“We have good dedicated associates. They come from good families. It’s not unusual for a father or mother to work here, then see their son or daughter join us as well,” Johnson said.annual sales grow from $50 million to $400 million.

Looking toward the future, Ryobi is diversifying from its ­flagship products, such as transmission cases and engine blocks. Since 2007, Ryobi Die Casting USA has worked with one of the major Japanese OEMs in developing a new generation of vehicle subframes changing from steel to die cast aluminum, which results in significantly lighter vehicles at competitive costs.

“This kind of subframe has typically been used in luxury vehicles in Europe. Now you can see this in a 400,000 unit mass production vehicle in the U.S.,” Johnson said.

By expanding its facility from 60 to 100 acres, Ryobi USA hopes to identify new automotive trends to be able to provide their solutions, including those involved in vehicle lightweighting.

“Many vehicle structural parts that were previously made from steel can be converted to aluminum die castings and still exceed all required specifications at a greatly reduced weight. With our deep experience and know-how, we look forward to helping our customers achieve these results.” Johnson said.

Ryobi is currently working on large battery cases for hybrid and electric vehicles, predicted to be a standard product for all OEMs eventually. Ryobi is clearly ahead of the game.

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Making the right move to America

Mar 05, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

Founded in 2014, Fukai Toyotetsu Indiana Corp. (FTIC) may be a latecomer for a tier one automotive supplier, but it could not have come to the United States at a better time. In Japan, parent company Fukai Manufacturing supported Subaru’s production for almost 80 years.

Fukai Toyotetsu Indiana Corp. President Satoru Fukai

When Subaru in Japan saw an increase of production of its American counterpart, Fukai Manufacturing saw the benefits of investing in the United States. The move was highly symbolic not only for the Subaru-Fukai relationship, but also for Japan-Indiana ties.

FTIC, a joint venture between Fukai Manufacturing and Toyoda Iron Works, is the first company from Tochigi Prefecture to invest in Indiana, its first twin state.

“Maybe our case will serve as an example for other companies in Tochigi Prefecture looking for opportunities abroad or in America. If we can share our experience, we will have contributed to a stronger relationship between both sides,” FTIC President Satoru Fukai said.

Looking toward the future, FTIC aims to grow both with the Jamestown community and with Subaru.

“We are very proud to have a customer like Subaru. Their performance has been strongly respected from many angles. We are fortunate to be a part of it,” Fukai said.

A firm with a human face

Mar 05, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

While legal services are crucial to businesses, finding the right firm is more than about who gives the best rates.


BTLaw Partner Pete Morse

Barnes & Thornburg (BTLaw), among the largest law firms in the country, prides itself on going the extra mile for its clients.

“Our Japanese clients want a ‘one stop shop’ for whatever legal need, whether it be about HR, antitrust, corporate compliance, litigation defense or IP protection,” said BTLaw Partner Pete Morse, who chairs the firm’s Global Services Practice Group and is general counsel to many Japanese companies.

“While our firm is designed to support clients, the most rewarding part of the job is when our clients consider us their true business counselor,” added Morse, an honorary consul to Japan and a frequent visitor to the country.

“When Japanese look for law firms, they need friends and someone who can really explain how things are here in the U.S.,” said Hide Niiyama, the firm’s Japanese liaison.

“It’s a commitment to the client and underlying relationships. Anyone can say that. But here, the client absolutely comes first, whether it’s helping with business solutions or finding the right doctor for a Japanese executive,” Morse also said.

Defying conventional wisdom

Mar 05, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

Southwest Central Indiana is unique for having no urban hub in the eight counties that make up the region. Completely rural, the manufacturing intensive area — called the Radius region — had no interstate access road until 2012, and was little known before then.

West Baden Resort in French Lick, Indiana

To complement that goal, Quyle and mayors from the region are planning a trip to Japan in November.Radius Indiana President and CEO Je­ff Quyle wants to make this Japanese success story the first of many. To promote the area as an investment location, Radius Indiana, through its Regional Impact Fund, can provide financial support to domestic and international locators.The construction of Interstate 69 has since provided logistics access, and the benefits are becoming evident. M&C Tech, a joint venture between Moriroku Chemicals and Chubu Chemicals, saw the region’s potential as a home and set up operations in 2016.

“It all goes back to the great friendship between Indiana and Japan. We are front of mind particularly because of our proximity to the Toyota facility. We hope to visit firms in Japan to learn their needs firsthand,” he said.

From access to NSA Crane, a sophisticated naval research installation, to the luxurious Pete Dye Golf Course at French Lick, Southwest Central Indiana has a lot to offer prospective locators.

“We have many ways to welcome Japanese firms that want to explore our region. I look forward to talking with them in the fall when we visit them,” he added.

Selling the ideal base to Japanese

Mar 05, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

City of Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton was among the local government officials from Indiana who attended the U.S. Midwest-Japan Conference in Tokyo last September. While many other U.S. states were also represented, Indiana stood out because of the number of local leaders who saw the value in joining the event.

Crawfordsville strikes the right note in building a dynamic and well-rounded city.

Barton’s main objective of the trip was simple: to further deepen the city’s ties with auto parts maker Heritage Products and its parent company Hiruta, which has called Crawfordsville home for 30 years.

“We are here for them and want to be supportive. We understand that if they face any challenges, we can work together as a partner to fix them,” Barton said.

Touting the success of Heritage Products, the mayor wants to attract more Japanese investment to the city, designated a Stellar Community by the state government in 2015.

“Indiana is unique and, within Indiana, we are unique,” Barton said.

“We are reshaping our economic development and breaking the mold on how we do it. I want you to know that we will work with you to make it happen here. We are on your team and we want you to win,” he added.

Rural, not remote

Mar 05, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

East Central Indiana is home to 18 of almost 300 Japanese companies operating in the state. Made up of 10 counties, the region has attracted several businesses because of its proximity to the state

East Central Indiana Regional Partnership President and CEO Mindy Kenworthy

capital, Indianapolis, and three Japanese automotive assembly plants and their suppliers.

East Central Indiana Regional Partnership President and CEO Mindy Kenworthy saw the value of this relationship with Japan early in her tenure and organized a delegation to visit the country in 2016.

“Many of the mayors and local economic development corporation directors haven’t had the opportunity to go to Japan before. It was the right time to go,” Kenworthy explained.

With all its counties having fully developed shovel-ready industrial sites, East Central Indiana offers plenty of room for growth.

“We have the location, the sites, a history of manufacturing, a skilled workforce and a great work ethic,” she stressed.

East Central Indiana’s cost of living is also 17 percent lower than the U.S. average and boasts a wide variety of housing and leisure options.

“I tell people that we are rural, but not remote,” Kenworthy said.

U.S. Great Lakes 2018 was prepared for and originally printed in GMI Post Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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