Auto parts supplier Denso injecting 130 jobs in Athens, Tenn.

Auto parts supplier Denso injecting 130 jobs in Athens, Tenn.

January 16th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

The Denso Manufacturing Athens Tennessee Inc. plant in Athens, Tenn., is shown.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Auto parts supplier Denso is adding 130 jobs at its Athens, Tenn., facility as part of a $1 billion investment in North America.

Denso plans to plow $50 million into the Athens facility as it brings production of its gasoline direct injection system technology to the state, according to the company.

"It's a good shot in the arm," said Athens City Manager Mitch Moore about the project.

The company, that already employs more than 1,000 in Athens, is expected to start staffing, training and tooling at the plant in June, said Moore. Production is slated to begin in 2014, the company said.

Hugh Cantrell, general manager of the Denso facility, said the move is to meet demand amid rising fuel economy standards.

"As automakers look to meet upcoming fuel requirements, Denso will begin producing its GDI products in the U.S. to meet increasing demand from our North American customers," he said in a statement.

McMinn County Mayor John Gentry said the announcement is the result of building ties locally and with Denso officials in Japan.

"Denso is a first-class manufacturer," he said in an email.

Moore said Denso was hit by the roughest part of the Great Recession. But the company also was one of the first to recover, he said.

Gentry said manufacturers have managed to prosper through improved production methods, innovative efficiencies and competitive product development.

The Athens facility produces oxygen sensors, ignition coils, monolithic carriers and spark plugs.

Among the plant's customers are Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Jaguar, Honda, Subaru, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Hyundai, according to the company.

Denso plans to add more than 2,000 jobs in North America as part of its planned expansion. Denso has more than 14,000 employees in the U.S. and more than 120,000 worldwide.

Gentry said Denso joins other industries such as J.M. Huber, Heil Trailer, Creative Foam, Bull Manufacturing, Waupaca and MidLab to have announced expansions or new facilities in McMinn County over the past two years.