Weastec to reopen facility in Greenfield
Highland County employer Weastec has announced plans to return operations to its automotive production facility in Greenfield.
Officials from Weastec joined with Highland County commissioners, economic development leaders and Village of Greenfield officials on August 18 in announcing that the facility at Greenfield’s South Central Ohio Industrial Park will be reopening in early 2022.
During the August 18 county commission meeting, Weastec President Ohito Takahashi, Vice President Craig Miley and Senior Manager Robert Moots announced that they will be returning to their former facility as the result of a new contract being awarded to the company.
In addition to county commissioners, present for the announcement were Greenfield city manager Todd Wilkin and public service director Gary Lewis, Highland County economic development director Julie Bolender and Chamber of Commerce director Jamie Wheeler.
“Weastec recently was awarded some business, and we’re very excited about it,” Miley said. “This business is actually adding value to the product.
“As you know, many years ago we got out of manufacturing, and we just went to pass-through. This business is actually larger engine parts that we will be assembling and adding value to and shipping to our customers.”
Miley said that the large parts contract will include the need for “hundreds and hundreds” of 4x4 bins, which the Hillsboro facility cannot accommodate.
“With that in mind, we’ve decided to open the Greenfield operation to do this work,” Miley said. Two lines will be run at the Greenfield facility. The process will be semiautomated using robotics, he said.
Weastec and the Village of Greenfield will coordinate efforts to clear and prepare the site, with a goal of having the lines in operations in January or February 2022.
According to Miley, there will be approximately 15 jobs, including some temporary jobs as well as specialized technical work due to the robotics.
“One thing we’ve talked with Julie about is we’re going to need people with more technical background because we will have robotics, and we will have a need for people to be able to program the robots, maintain them and things like that,” Miley said. “We started posting jobs today. A lot of our associates are still from Greenfield, so they get first dibs on whether they want to work in Greenfield or not.”
Miley said associates currently on staff should have the necessary skills for production associate and material handling jobs. “We would like to find a person in that area (Greenfield)” with the ability to work on the robots.
Weastec uses a temporary hiring agency to fill positions, and plans to employ as many local people as possible.
“It’s great to hear that you’re expanding,” Commission president Jeff Duncan said. “It’s good for the county and good for the community.”
Miley added that the Hillsboro Weastec facility is currently full, so an additional benefit to moving the lines to Greenfield is the opportunity to “open up some more floor space so hopefully we can get some more jobs like this.”
“This project has given a lot of people a lot of motivation,” he said. “Our production engineering and production groups are really excited.”
Takahashi said that the “Greenfield project is exciting for us” and thanked the officials for their cooperation. “This is a good opportunity for us,” he said.
The move is setting “the foundation to add additional business to Greenfield,” Moots said. “Hopefully in the future, we can have that done,” he said. “I want to thank everybody in this room for the cooperation that you have given to Weastec to help us do this project. We started a couple years ago — 2019, when we first introduced it to Ms. Katy Farber [of OhioSE Economic Development] and Todd [Wilkin].
“We are very thankful,” Wilkin said. “We’re glad to be part of the process. We’re here to support in any way that we can, and we believe that as a government, we don’t create jobs. We just create the atmosphere in which you guys create the jobs.
“We do have some work that we’re going to do over there on the property to kind of clean it up and make it more usable. We’re very excited and looking forward to working with you guys on future projects.”
Commissioner Daniels thanked Weastec for their contributions to the community over the past three decades.
“When you arrived in Highland County years ago, you made a commitment here, and you stuck by that commitment even when your manufacturing was discontinued,” he said. “You still had a presence here. You were still working here. You were still committed to the county. Now you’re showing that you’re willing to bring business back here. I just want you to know how much I appreciate your commitment to the county and the difference that you’ve made to an awful lot of people.”
Miley said that Weastec and Toyodenso have a commitment to being a “good corporate citizen,” supporting the community as a whole.
“It’s weighed on us for many years — me, Rob and others — about shutting Greenfield down,” he said. “When I had to lay off all those people, that was one of the worst days of my life. We had hundreds of people, and we had to lay them off. We closed Seaman, then we closed Greenfield, and then finally Hillsboro we cut all the manufacturing.”
Through the adversity, Miley said Weastec has remained involved in charities. “That’s part of our culture, and we feel that opening Greenfield” is another way to give back to the community, he added.
Weastec, Inc. was founded in 1988 as a subsidiary of Toyodenso Co. Ltd., a global leader for electrical switches, electronics and sensors. Weastec supplies these products to the North American automotive, power sports and power equipment markets. The Hillsboro headquarters, a 120,000-square-foot production facility at 1600 North High Street, is conveniently located to deliver products directly to major original equipment manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen.