By Bill Poovey
Published Nov. 9, 2015
JTEKT North America Corp. is expanding its operations at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, opening an operational headquarters and adding 27 jobs. Executives of the auto supplier announced the $1.75 million investment today. The new headquarters will operate alongside the Japan-based company’s Koyo bearing product technical center at CU-ICAR, occupying facilities at both 1 and 7 Research Drive.
JTEKT, a supplier of automotive steering and driveline components and bearings, has operations in Piedmont, Walhalla, Orangeburg and Richland County. The company’s expansion at the university’s graduate automotive engineering, research and product development center is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of 2016, said Mike Davidson, the company’s COO. Hiring has already started.
JTEKT North America Corp. COO Mike Davidson (from left) speaks with Nelson Lindsay with the S.C. Commerce Department and Clemson University President James Clements. (Photo by Bill Poovey)
Clemson University President James Clements said at the news conference that JTEKT’s expansion on the research campus exemplifies why CU-ICAR was established more than 10 years ago. He said the primary goal then “was to create a place where faculty, staff and students would come together with our industry partners to innovate and create solutions to meet industry needs. The hope at that time was that such a place would attract even more industry partners to the Upstate which would create jobs and further develop the economy of this great state. This announcement today is another realization of those goals.”
Clements said the “presence of JTEKT, a global world class automotive supplier, along with their bearings technology center on our campus, is exactly the kind of industry footprint that we envisioned to be located with the department of automotive engineering.“ He said the company has “also been able to hire some exceptional talent from Clemson University.”
JTEKT Corp. was started in 2006 through the merger of Koyo Seiko Co. Ltd., a global bearing manufacturer, and Toyoda Machine Works Ltd., a machine tool manufacturer. The company has more than 44,000 employees worldwide, including more than 7,000 at 14 manufacturing facilities and technical and sales centers in North America.
Davidson said the corporate functions at CU-ICAR to “serve all North American JTEKT locations include our executive office, health safety and environment, quality management, purchasing, finance, production administration, production engineering and human resources.” He said the “availability of both professional and technical talent, proximity to the majority of our manufacturing facilities in the Southeastern United States and the quality of life in the Upstate made this a great move for our organization.”
The S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to the project.
S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobyy Hitt said in a statement that JTEKT in 2012 “announced a $100 million expansion in our state, and Team South Carolina is thrilled to see that they’ve elected to continue growing their footprint here.”
The company in 2012 announced a $102 million investment and 80 new jobs at The Matrix industrial park in Piedmont. The company that same year announced a $130 million investment in its Richland County operation that was expected to add 175 jobs over the next three years.