Hamilton manufacturer grows with investment in workforce, facilities

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Hamilton manufacturer grows with investment in workforce, facilities

ThyssenKrupp Bilstein, which makes shock absorbers for vehicles, is looking to emphasize that it continues to see growth in the region and relies on the area’s skilled workforce to fill its “high quality, well-paying jobs.”

The international company’s Hamilton facility has seen large growth this decade, including hiring approximately 500 employee since 2012 and investing $26 million into an 30,000-square-foot expansion completed in early 2016, its third such effort since 2011.

George Harp delivers shock absorber products to the next stage of production Thursday, April 20 at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein in Hamilton.  NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

We asked Fabian Schmahl, president & CEO, Thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America, Inc., about job growth, and the challenges faced by the growing manufacturer and the manufacturing industry, as a whole.

Q: Manufacturing is seeing some great gains in the past half year or so but it also continues to face some challenges, especially when it comes to hiring for new positions. What are the challenges ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of Hamilton is facing and how is it working to achieve success there.

A: “Two of the biggest challenges facing the manufacturing industry, including thyssenkrupp Bilstein, are investing in facilities to meet demand and ensuring the best and brightest young minds see a future in a career in advanced manufacturing.

“To meet those challenges, we have invested more than $26 million to expand our best-in-class facilities in Hamilton. We are also very conscious of the need to attract and retain talented individuals in manufacturing. In fact, it is critical to our success. So thyssenkrupp Bilstein is active in the local community, working with universities to recruit and offer scholarships to students. This work helps promote and further interest in the field of logistics and supply chain management among the future workforce right here in Ohio.”

Janet Ayala works in the M300 assembly section where robots are used for certain parts of the assembly process Thursday, April 20 at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein in Hamilton.  NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Q. What are some of the major challenges your company and others are facing?

A: “At a time when the auto industry is growing at a rapid pace, we are constantly looking for ways to serve our customers more efficiently and provide more sophisticated technologies. This is an ongoing and exciting challenge. We have invested more than $26 million to expand our facilities in Hamilton to help us meet this increasing demand. At the same time, we have also been investing in our employees to ensure that they have the proper training and they can work in best-in-class facilities.”

Shock absorber products are staged for the next stage of production Thursday, April 20 at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein in Hamilton.  NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Q: In what ways is the company uniquely positioned to help the manufacturing industry—in Ohio, as well as globally—address those challenges?

A: “Thyssenkrupp Bilstein provides cost-effective, mission critical components for global automotive manufacturers. We offer a best-in-class process and global production footprint which makes the company a vital part of the local economy and of thyssenkrupp’s ability to compete in the highly competitive automotive marketplace. Over time, our expansions have provided new manufacturing capabilities for thyssenkrupp Bilstein’s leading edge shock absorber technology. By enhancing our regional manufacturing technologies and capacity, we help meet the growing requirements of our U.S.-based customers.”

Validation engineer Heather Brooks checks shock absorbers in the testing area Thursday, April 20 at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein in Hamilton.  NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Q: What sort of job growth has the company experienced post-recession and how much longer do you expect that to last at those levels?

A: “Through all of its expansions, thyssenkrupp Bilstein has added more than 500 new jobs in Hamilton over the last five years. Because of the cutting-edge nature of the technology we create at the facility, these include high-quality, well-paying jobs. Whenever we consider expansion, it centers on customer needs and the competitive business landscape. thyssenkrupp Bilstein prides itself on being one of the best places to work in the area. And, as we continue to seek growth in the region, we rely on the skilled workforce in Hamilton and the surrounding area.”

Jesse Lovins works in the M300 assembly section where robots are used for certain parts of the assembly process Thursday, April 20 at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein in Hamilton.  NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Q: What’s the biggest false notion your company has encountered when it comes to the manufacturing industry as a whole? How does your company actively work to dispel such notions?

A: “We are a technology driven company, the Apple or Google of suspension technology. We are very conscious of the need to attract and retain talented individuals in manufacturing. In fact, it is critical to our success. As an industry, we need the best and brightest young minds see a future in a career in advanced manufacturing. So thyssenkrupp Bilstein is active in the local community, working with universities to recruit and offer scholarships to students as well as invest in our Bilstein operations to help promote and further interest in the field of logistics and supply chain management among the future workforce right here in Ohio.

“For example, we have people in our community who are ready to work but face logistic hurdles like access to transportation. The new bus routes are compelling examples of how the city and business can work together to unite businesses with talented people.”

Sam Owusu welds and checks shock absorber parts Thursday, April 20 at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein in Hamilton.  NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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