May 15, 2018 10:56:22 AM
Alex Holloway - [email protected]
Yokohama Tire Corporation's West Point plant has come a long way in three years.
The tire plant opened in fall 2015, and since then its workforce has grown to more than 650 employees, Senior Human Resources Manager Stacey Perusse told Starkville Rotarians Monday during their meeting at the Mill at MSU conference center.
Perusse said Yokohama is "continually" hiring new employees, with about 15 hires every Monday.
"About a year ago, we were right around 500 (employees)," she said. "We actually had a job fair here in Starkville last August and we had over 700 people come."
Perusse said Yokohama offers competitive pay for its employees, with starting wages at $14.50 per hour and pay raises every six months for five years.
She said the company is still hiring for a range of positions, including production officers, production supervisors, maintenance technicians, engineers and accountants.
Yokohama is still in the first phase of what's planned to be an up to four-phase project. Each ensuing phase is expected to add 500 jobs.
Perusse said she's not sure when the company will begin work on phase two, which was originally anticipated to begin in fall 2015. She said the company will likely begin work on it in the next few years.
Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said the LINK, which recruited Yokohama to the area and keeps tabs on the company's progress, is satisfied with what he's seen. He said Yokohama has met the qualifications to begin work on phase two, whenever the company decides to begin.
"We're pleased with Yokohama's progress thus far," Higgins said. "They have already exceeded all of their obligations for phase one, including employing more than 500 people and investing more than $300 million."
Yokohama's West Point plant, which produces commercial tires, is one of two manufacturing facilities the company has in the United States, along with a plant in Salem, Virginia. Perusse said the company has distribution and other facilities scattered across the United States.
The U.S. accounts for 22 percent of Yokohama Rubber Company's -- the parent company of Yokohama Tire Corporation -- sales. She said the company is working to increase that number to 50 percent.