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Providing a 'seat' at the global table

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

TS Tech literally has a seat at the global automotive production table. Because of that, New Castle does too, adding to a century-old legacy in the transportation business.

Thursday morning, members of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. heard firsthand about TS Tech’s rise, its unique stature in the Japanese-owned company and the possibility of expansion down the road.

“This is the only plant TS Tech has built from the ground up,” said Doug Reno, administrative department manager of the New Castle automotive seat assembly site, which has been in operation here since 2007.

New Castle’s TS Tech industrial park setting is one of 71 facilities the company has among 47 companies in 14 different countries around the world.

“This company has a very large global presence,” Reno said.

In just over a decade, the New Castle facility has certainly made its mark. Reno said in the past year, dating from April 1, 2018, to March 31 of this year, 242,000 sets of seats were produced here and shipped to the Greensburg Honda plant.

The work here has not only been hard. It’s been skillful, following in the manufacturing footsteps left behind by Chrysler Corp., Modernfold and others. Since TS Tech started production here in 2008, it has earned several distinguished awards, including:

• Delivery awards each year from 2011 through 2014 and again in 2016;

• Quality awards in 2012, 2013 and 2014; and

• A trifecta of sorts in 2014, when the company received quality, delivery and value awards in the same year.

TS Tech has had a 60-year relationship with Honda, Reno stressed. It supplies seats for the Honda Civic, Honda Insight and Honda CRV.

“We build the front and rear seats, including the mounts, for each vehicle,” Reno said.

Located just 43 miles from the Greensburg Honda plant, TS Tech is uniquely located to keep assembly lines moving.

“We are producing seats about 12 hours before they are running through the production line at Honda,” Reno said.

The local facility currently has 490 workers, making one of Henry County’s top employers. There is plenty of room to grow as well on the company’s 60-acre site.

Land immediately north of the facility is not only available, but has actually been prepped for possible expansion, according to Reno.

“We could knock out that wall and build very, very easily,” Reno said. “Hopefully in the future, that’s something we get the opportunity to experience. Most of our other facilities are kind of locked in. They don’t have the ability to expand. We do. This was intentionally purchased in hopes there is an opportunity to expand.”

Aside from being a good industrial citizen, community and environmental spirit is in the air here. Where TS Tech is concerned, it literally floats like a butterfly. A Monarch butterfly.

Reno, a life resident of Delaware County who moved here to Henry County two years ago, told EDC members about a company project now under way to help the endangered insect.

“Japanese culture likes to give back to the community,” Reno explained. “They also like to help preserve the environment. One of the things they learned was that the Monarch butterfly is not doing well. Two years ago, we started a Monarch butterfly project.

“Indiana is on the national travel path from Canada to Mexico for the Monarch butterfly,” Reno continued. “So in the back corner of our property, we actually put out, in the shape of a butterfly, a special area. In the past year, we’ve planted over 10,000 types of plants that are preferred by the Monarch butterfly in hopes of attracting them on their path to Mexico.”

Reno said the project is slated for completion this year. A walking path has been created, park benches will be added along with picnic tables and signage providing details, history and fun facts about the Monarch butterfly.

“Then after that, we want to open it to the public and invite schools here for educational visits,” Reno said.