In 10 years, Aisin Chemical Indiana LLC in Crothersville has experienced several changes.
Production of clutch plates and sound dampening products started in the middle of nearby sister company Aisin Drivetrain Inc. with less than 20 employees. Now, there are more than 90 employees at two plants with plans to add more full-time positions in the future.
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The company started out small with one line for each of its two products. Through the years, the number of products has grown, and manufacturing lines have been added.
In 2011, the sound dampening production and office were moved into a 70,000-square-foot facility. That building grew by 30,000 square feet in the fall of 2013 to localize unique production processes for the clutch plate business. Then earlier this year, a second 100,000-square-foot plant opened for additional production and warehouse space.
Earlier this week, the grand opening of Plant 2 was celebrated along with Aisin Chemical Indiana’s 10-year anniversary.
“Since I was here 10 years ago, I have many stories I could tell both good and bad, funny and sad,” said Masayuki Isogami, president of Aisin Chemical Indiana.
“The underlying theme in any story of Aisin Chemical Indiana would be a tremendous sense of family and teamwork between our team members,” he said. “It is these people with their dedication to their co-workers and Aisin Chemical Indiana that help to make this company what it is today.”
Aisin officials from North America and Japan were joined by local and state officials for Tuesday’s celebration. The event consisted of speakers, a presentation of donations to Crothersville’s school and fire department, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a plant tour and lunch.
Aisin Chemical Indiana manufactures wet friction material, spray type dampening material and anti-corrosion paint for the automotive industry. Customers include Toyota, Subaru and Nissan.
Plant 2 allows the company to increase the capacity of its friction material clutch plate products by nearly 50 percent, Isogami said.
That growth is a part of the Aisin companies’ Vision 2020 that was established a couple of years ago. Each business group took the core principles of Vision 2020 and molded them to be more specific to the individual groups.
Aisin Chemical’s goal is to become a global company with a strong brand, and several milestones need to be reached to achieve that goal, Isogami said.
One is to establish competitive strengths of its core business. Aisin Chemical Indiana has been able to add lines for each product group by achieving greater efficiency in its processes.
“We were cautious to not grow so rapidly that we could not maintain our corporate philosophy of ‘Quality First,’” Isogami said.
“We are very proud of our track record in quality,” he said. “We have earned several awards from our customers for quality over the years, including the Toyota Excellent Quality Award five times in 10 years. We believe this emphasis on quality helps us to continue growing. We have taken our core business and made it a true strength of our company.”
Another Vision 2020 milestone achieved was creating a second line of business. A paper mill was added to manufacture paper used in the wet friction material.
“Although the paper we produce is only used in our friction material process, the process of making paper was new for Aisin Chemical Indiana,” Isogami said. “We have worked very hard over the past two years to ensure that the paper we produce meets our high standards for quality.”
In the past year, another new line was added to produce structural adhesive. That currently is manufactured at Aisin Chemical in Japan and is being replicated in Crothersville.
“The structural adhesive business gives us an opportunity to grow into a new area of the automotive industry,” Isogami said. “We look forward to the challenge of developing a core strength in structural adhesive.”
By the end of this year, the plans are to have all manufacturing equipment out of Aisin Drivetrain and into Plant 2. The company also will have nearly 100 employees.
Plant 1 is designed to expand back an additional 30,000 square feet for production or warehouse space, and the parking lot of Plant 2 can be expanded. Aisin also owns acreage to the east for a third plant if it’s needed for future growth, said Steve Tolliver, department manager of production operations at Aisin Chemical Indiana.
Kanichi Shimizu, president of Aisin Chemical Co. Ltd. in Japan, said he appreciates everyone who has supported the Crothersville facility over the years and wants to see that continue.
“We hope to continue growing in the future into the land we still have undeveloped,” he said. “Today is a great day of celebrating the past but also a celebration of what is yet to come.”
When Aisin Chemical Indiana was established Jan. 5, 2006, it joined Aisin USA Mfg Inc. in Seymour, formed in 1987, and Aisin Drivetrain Inc. in Crothersville, which came along in 1995. Today, those three facilities employ more than 1,900 people.
Scott Turpin, president of Aisin Drivetrain Inc. and Aisin World Corp. of America, said some people might question the concept of having three related manufacturing facilities located so closely to each other in a small, rural setting. But it has worked quite well, he said.
“It has worked well because the business leaders of the three Aisin manufacturing facilities work closely with each other in an effort to not only improve their individual companies, but to improve the company as a whole,” Turpin said.
The three industries are among 29 Aisin group companies in North America and 192 companies worldwide.
Stephen Akard, chief of staff with the Indiana Economic Development Corp., thanked Aisin’s Japanese leaders for choosing Indiana for some of its manufacturing facilities.
Ten years ago, Indiana was home to about 200 Japanese companies employing 40,000 Hoosiers. Today, more than 250 Japanese companies employ more than 50,000 Indiana residents.
“That is a remarkable trajectory of growth and prosperity,” he said.
“This sector of the economy, advanced manufacturing, is on a roll and is driving Indiana forward right now,” he said. “We are the envy of the nation in where we stand in terms of our growth. We are at record employment in the state of Indiana, our personal incomes are on the rise, so we look forward to continuing relationships with companies from Japan. In particular from Aisin and the growth of Aisin Chemical, we look forward to the next 10 years.”
Aisin Chemical Indiana LLC is at 1004 Industrial Way in Crothersville.
For information, call 812-793-2888 or visit aisinchemin.com.