Columbus, Ind. — NTN Driveshaft plans to hire 115 new employees im-mediately to meet an increase in business.
The Columbus company, which designs and makes constant velocity joints for the automotive industry, wants to have the new employees work-ing by Jan. 15.
In July, NTN received a 10-year tax abatement from the city for a $17 million invest-ment in new equipment to fill orders for the new Toyota Camry.
The 115 new jobs, though, are in response to an overall increase in business, NTN said.
“The auto industry is start-ing to improve,” said Barry Parkhurst, NTN’s vice presi-dent of administration.
Ford, Toyota and Honda are NTN’s three primary customers, although it sup-plies all car companies except BMW and Volkswagen.
“Our customers had a re-lease of particular models of vehicles we are supplying and they are seeing an increase in volume of sales,” Parkhurst said.
The investment and new jobs are positive signs for NTN, which had been hurt by the recession like other manu-facturers.
In February 2009, NTN laid off 200 hourly employees because of the slumping auto industry and declining sales. Before that, it cut full-time employees’ hours from 40 to 28 per week.
However, NTN recalled all 200 by October and November of 2009.
“Everything is back to full shifts and we are working a lot of overtime because we are working so fast,” Parkhurst said. “So, everything is back to where it was prior to the layoff period.”
NTN plans to hire 100 pro-duction and 15 engineering and maintenance jobs.
Jason Hester, executive di-rector of Columbus Economic Development Board, said the announcement was good news for the local economy, which features many manufacturers who are tied to the automotive industry.
“These jobs should make for a happy New Year for many people,” Hester said.
Parkhurst said NTN has already hired about half of the positions through recent job fairs in Columbus and Sey-mour.
NTN plans to hold two up-coming job fairs in January, one in Columbus and one in Seymour. Times, dates and locations have not been final-ized.
All positions will be full-time and include benefits. Parkhurst said the company is not providing information on how much the jobs pay because of the competitive nature of the industry. How-ever, he said the engineering and maintenance jobs typi-cally pay more because of specific skills needed.
The openings are primarily for second and third shifts, although some first shift positions could be available.
“I think it’s great for Co-lumbus,” Mayor Fred Arm-strong said. “The economy is picking up slowly but surely. …We’ve got more (an-nouncements) coming, but we can’t announce anything until we know it’s happening.”
NTN currently employs about 1,300, making it the fourth-largest employer in Bartholomew County.
NTN opened its first pro-duction and research and development facilities in Columbus in December 1990.