Interstate Lane: December 2015

By The Lane Report staff

Indiana: Auto sector growth drives expansion, 510 new jobs at NTN Corp

NTN Driveshaft Inc. and its Japan-based parent company, NTN Corp., have announced plans to grow their Indiana operations, establishing a new manufacturing plant in Anderson that is expected to ultimately create up to 510 new jobs.

The company is investing more than $87 million to build and equip a new 406,596-s.f. facility that will operate as NTN Driveshaft Anderson. The new plant will complement NTN Driveshaft’s existing 1 million-s.f. facility in Columbus, Ind.

“Despite several recent expansions, our manufacturing plant in Columbus has exceeded capacity due to growth in the automotive industry and the resulting needs of our customers,” said Jim Riggs, president of NTN Driveshaft.

NTN Corp. was established in Osaka, Japan, in 1918 and has grown to become a global manufacturer of mechanical parts and equipment, such as bearings, drive shafts and production equipment serving customers in the transportation sector. The company established NTN Driveshaft in Columbus, Ind. in 1990 and NTK Precision Axle in Frankfort, Ind. in 2004. The company currently employs a total of more than 1,600 in Indiana and plans to start hiring for the new plant beginning in March.

Construction of the Anderson plant is already underway and is projected to be complete by April 2017.

Ohio: Kroger’s $800M purchase of Roundy’s boosts Midwest presence

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. is investing $800 million to acquire Roundy’s Inc., a leading Midwest grocer.

Roundy’s gives Kroger an expanded footprint with a complementary base of 151 stores and 101 pharmacies in Milwaukee, Madison and northern Wisconsin, which are served under the Pick ‘n Save, Copps and Metro Market banners. The merger also expands Kroger’s presence in the Chicago area, where Roundy’s operates 34 stores under the Mariano’s banner. Roundy’s also operates two distribution centers in Oconomowoc and Mazomanie, Wisc., and a commissary in Kenosha, Wisc. The company had revenues of nearly $4 billion for fiscal year 2014.

Together Kroger and Roundy’s will operate 2,774 supermarkets and employ over 422,000 associates across 35 states and the District of Columbia. Following the transaction closing, Roundy’s will continue to operate its stores as a subsidiary of Kroger and will continue to be led by key members of Roundy’s senior management team.

Kroger said Roundy’s headquarters will remain in Milwaukee and there are no plans to close stores. Roundy’s associates will have employment opportunities with both companies.

While Kroger expects to realize cost savings of approximately $40 million over time, the company said it plans to reinvest those cost savings to grow the business.

BUSINESS BRIEFS

INDIANA

Alcoa has opened a new state-of-the-art engine parts facility in La Porte, Ind., where it has already added 155 new jobs and expects to add approximately 175 more jobs by 2019. The $100,000 million, 320,000-s.f. expansion enables Alcoa to manufacture single-piece structural parts – components that encase the rotating parts of an engine – that are nearly 60 percent larger than those currently produced in La Porte, enabling the company to broaden its reach into wide- and narrow-body aircraft engines.

TENNESSEE

American Standard Brands has withdrawn its plans to establish a new $22 million manufacturing and distribution facility in La Vergne, Tenn., just outside of Nashville. The company said the action is “in response to business consolidation plans that have made a new manufacturing and distribution plant uneconomical now and for the foreseeable future.” When announced in July, American Standard said the project would create approximately 600 new jobs.

Utah-based Lifetime Products, a leading manufacturer of blow-molded plastic products, has announced plans to locate new manufacturing and distribution operations in Knox County, Tenn., that will create 500 new jobs. The company’s east Tennessee plant will produce its line of watersports equipment, which includes kayaks and paddleboards, and children’s outdoor play sets. Lifetime expects to have the facility operational by the summer of 2017.

A China-based company that designs and manufactures memory-foam bedding products is investing $28 million to locate a new manufacturing facility in La Vergne, Tenn., that will create 350 new jobs. Sinomax Group is renovating a former Whirlpool facility and expects the facility to be operational by June 2016.

Wonderful Group, a China-based company that produces porcelain tile, has selected an industrial site in Lebanon, Tenn., on which to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant. The company is investing $150 million to build a 500,000-s.f. facility that will employ a staff of 220. The plant is expected to be operational by late 2016.

Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant has stopped production of its 2016 diesel-powered Passat sedan as the plant awaits a remedy for its emission system, according to a report by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. It was discovered earlier this fall that the company’s diesel vehicles contained illegal software that produced false readings for emissions.  At that time, VW said it would continue to build Passats but would not sell them until a fix was found. The company has announced that it will continue to move forward with its plans for a $600 million expansion of the Chattanooga plant to accommodate production of a midsize SUV. That expansion is expected to add 2,000 new jobs.

OHIO

Cincinnati-based Macy’s Inc. has signed an agreement with eyewear company Luxottica Group to create a LensCrafters department in up to 500 Macy’s stores over the next three years. The agreement builds on a successful relationship between the two companies that has resulted in the opening of approximately 670 of Luxottica’s Sunglass Hut locations within Macy’s stores to date. That agreement has tripled the size of the sunglass business at Macy’s in the past six years. LensCrafters will open its first new Macy’s location in April of 2016, with the goal of opening approximately 100 locations by the end of next year.

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