Japanese company was one of state’s first foreign auto suppliers
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 27, 2015) — TOPY AMERICA Inc., one of the state’s first foreign-owned automotive suppliers, today celebrated 30 years in Frankfort.
“I’m pleased to congratulate TOPY AMERICA on its three decades of success in Frankfort,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “It’s fitting to describe the company’s decision to locate in Kentucky as visionary. As one of the first automotive suppliers in the commonwealth and one of the early Japanese-owned firms to invest and create jobs here, TOPY AMERICA helped build an entire sector of Kentucky’s economy.”
TOPY AMERICA manufactures steel wheels for passenger vehicles and light trucks. It supplies multiple automotive assembly plants in Kentucky, throughout North America and around the world.
Its Japanese parent, TOPY INDUSTRIES LTD., dispatched a site-selection team to the U.S. in late 1984 and early 1985
“The team surveyed sites in Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky before coming to the conclusion that Franklin County was the ideal site due to the available labor pool, the open hospitality of the local community, and economic enticement from state and local economic development agencies,” said TOPY AMERICA president and CEO Mark Oto.
Additionally, the team liked Frankfort’s proximity to four major interstates that positioned the company between its first two customers, Honda in Marysville, Ohio, and Nissan in Smyrna, Tenn.
At that point, the company and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development (CED) anticipated 79 full-time jobs and an investment of $26 million.
“We began shipping in the summer of 1986 and couldn’t be more pleased to be conducting business here today, providing jobs, building high-quality products and supplying automakers all over the world,” Oto said. “I can truly say Frankfort is home and we’re glad that was the choice 30 years ago.”
Since its founding, TOPY AMERICA continued to grow, making incremental investments over the years and adding jobs along the way. The company currently employs about 300 people in Frankfort, the headquarters for both its automotive division and its U.S. operations.
As an existing business adding jobs, TOPY AMERICA created important ripple effects. The CED calculated in 2011 that a business adding 100 manufacturing jobs created a $12 million direct economic impact and a total impact of nearly $25 million.
TOPY AMERICA also helped pioneer foreign direct investment in Kentucky by Japanese-owned corporations. That sector now includes more than 170 Japanese-owned facilities and employs more than 41,000 Kentuckians.
The automotive industry now stands as one of Kentucky’s strongest and largest sectors, employing more than 88,000 people and placing the commonwealth third nationally in vehicle production in 2014. This year through September alone, automotive-related businesses announced 42 expansions or new locations in the commonwealth, accounting for nearly 1,200 new jobs and $921 million in projected investment.