Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Japanese auto supplier to build Murfreesboro plant, hire 224

A Japanese auto-parts supplier will build a plant in Murfreesboro to manufacture seat components for Nissan vehicles beginning in mid-2011, and eventually will employ up to 224 workers, the company and regional economic-development officials said today.
NHK Seating of America, Inc., a subsidiary of NHK Spring Co., Ltd., of Yokohama, Japan, will invest about $54 million in the new facility, which will be at Interstate 24 and Joe B. Jackson Parkway, said Holly Sears, vice president for economic development at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

Although NHK did not say what Nissan vehicle it would build the seat components for, the opening of the plant would coincide with the start of production of Nissan’s new Leaf electric car at the automaker’s manufacturing complex in Smyrna, about 15 miles away.

Construction of the building, on a 50-acre site being purchased by NHK, will begin in October, and when the plant is in full operation, by 2015, it is expected to reach its peak employment. The company has an option on an additional 25 acres for future development, as well.

NHK Seating, founded in 1987, originally was a joint venture of the Japanese company and the U.S. auto supplier Lear Corp., based in Southfield, Mich. The Japanese company bought Lear’s interest in 2006.

The U.S. operation's headquarters and only current manufacturing plant is in Frankfort, Ind., where it builds seat assemblies for the Subaru Outback, Legacy and Tribeca and the Toyota Camry, as well as active front headrests for the Camry, to supply a joint Subaru-Toyota assembly plant in nearby Lafayette, Ind.

The Rutherford County site for the new plant is part of an area targeted by the city of Murfreesboro and the Tennessee Department of Transportation for industrial development with the construction of the Joe B. Jackson interchange on I-24 in the early 2000s.

Already, three other facilities are operating at the site, including Perfect Equipment Co., which employs 278 people in the manufacture of wheel weights; Pretoria Engineering, which has 60 workers who make components for mass-transit vehicles, and Interstate Warehousing, a cold food-storage and distribution center with 57 employees.

Interstate Warehousing announced a 135,000 square-foot expansion of its facility on Wednesday, and said it would hire an additional 31 employees when construction is completed, Sears said.

Contact Tennessean automotive writer G. Chambers Williams III at 615-259-8076 or

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