In 1986, officials with Aisin Seiki Co. decided to build the company’s first North American plant on the east side of Seymour.
The decision by the leaders of that Japanese automotive parts maker began a seemingly endless stream of job announcements that continued Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony for a 100,000-square-foot plant for Aisin Chemical Indiana at Crothersville.
That groundbreaking is likely not the last for Aisin Chemical, which owns 39 acres in the Crothersville Industrial Park, general manager Tim Carter said during opening remarks.
The plant will be the second for the company. Aisin Chemical also uses some manufacturing space in Aisin Drivetrain’s plant, located across Industrial Way. The new plant will end the need for that space.
The expansion at Aisin Chemical is the fourth since the company was established on Jan. 5, 2006. It is expected to lead to the creation of 75 jobs within the next year and a half, and another 30 jobs by 2017.
Overall, more than 2,200 people will be working for the three Aisin operations in Jackson County — the two in Crothersville and Aisin U.S.A. Manufacturing in Seymour. Aisin Holdings of America Inc., which oversees the company’s North American operations, also is located in Seymour.
Aisin has 10 plants and nine operations in Indiana and employs more than 3,000. Other plants are located in Tell City and Terre Haute.
Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., said he could not have envisioned the company’s growth in the county when he first started working with Aisin officials to bring Aisin U.S.A. Manufacturing to Seymour back in the mid-1980s.
He can, however, explain why the company continues to look to Jackson County when it comes to expansion projects.
“In economic development, we talk about risk aversion,” Plump said.
Rather than starting a new operation somewhere else, it is sometimes easier to expand in places where you already have an operation and know what it takes to obtain a tax abatement or other economic incentives, he said.
Plump said when Aisin began looking for a location for Aisin Drivetrain, he made a phone call and found out Seymour was not an option.
Company officials at that time, however, told him they might consider another location in Jackson County. That eventually led to a decision to locate Aisin Drivetrain there.
Masayasu Saito, president of Aisin Holdings of America Inc., said Aisin Chemical Indiana came about because of the decision to start making materials in the United States instead of importing them from elsewhere.
Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony was the third for Aisin Chemical Indiana. The first was in 2011, and the expansion of the existing plant came in 2012. There also has been four ribbon-cuttings, including one Wednesday for the expansion.
Ardell Mitchell, president of the Crothersville town council, said part of his plan was to make sure Gov. Mike Pence had plenty of reasons — such as Wednesday’s groundbreaking — to come back to Crothersville in the future.
Pence said that the relationship between the people of Indiana and Japan, which began in the 1980s, is one of respect for cultures that value hard work.
Masayuki Isogami, president of Aisin Chemical Indiana, said the decision to expand locally was because the people of Crothersville, Jackson County and the state have always been good to work with.
Overall, Aisin U.S.A. Manufacturing Inc. is one of the county’s top industrial employers with 1,732 workers; Aisin Drivetrain Inc. is fifth with 296 workers; and Aisin Chemical will be 13th with 135.