Posted: 4:56 p.m. Saturday, June 1, 2013

ThyssenKrupp hands out job offers at Saturday hiring event

CEO discusses future growth plans

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ThyssenKrupp hands out job offers at Saturday hiring event photo
E.L. Hubbard
Fabian Schmahl, president & CEO of ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc., watches as his employees interview applicants during a job fair at the company in Hamilton Saturday, June 1, 2013. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
ThyssenKrupp hands out job offers at Saturday hiring event photo
E.L. Hubbard
ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc. employees Joy Fry and Stephanie Sellman interview applicants Douglas Smith, foreground, right, and Jeff Davis during a job fair at the company in Hamilton Saturday, June 1, 2013. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
ThyssenKrupp hands out job offers at Saturday hiring event photo
E.L. Hubbard
People line up for interviews during a job fair at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc. Saturday, June 1, 2013, in Hamilton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

By Chelsey Levingston

Staff Writer

HAMILTON —

Auto supplier ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc. continues growing production of shock absorbers, and the CEO says a new announcement could be on the way about another major investment in its Hamilton facilities.

Bilstein held a job fair Saturday to hire more workers to keep up with growth.

Hundreds of people lined up to apply at the Hamilton plant, 8685 Berk Blvd. Bilstein handed out job offers Saturday to those who passed pre-screening and on-site interviews. As of noon, as many as 20 people unexpectedly walked away with a job including Gerrine Reese of Hamilton.

Job offers are pending pre-employment screening drug tests and other qualifications.

Reese, who was laid off from the closed Fairfield Pella door factory, said she will start Aug. 19 as an assembler at Bilstein.

“I feel great. I’ve been out of work for a year and six months,” Reese said.

Bilstein is hiring 50 to 60 people through September, President and Chief Executive Fabian Schmahl said. Another 50 or more could be hired the next 12 months, contingent on whether expansion plans and customer contracts go through, Schmahl told this newspaper in an exclusive interview about future growth plans.

Total employment at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein’s four U.S. facilities is up to 375, of which 295 jobs are in Hamilton, its headquarters.

Bilstein completed in 2012 an approximately $6 million project to invest in new technologies and equipment, including real-time damping technology transferred from its German parent company.

Business is growing due some to a resurgent American auto industry, but also due to the growth of Bilstein’s customers such as automakers Chrysler, Ford, Mercedes, Nissan, Tesla and Toyota, Schmahl said. Bilstein is winning contracts thanks to technology investments and its focus on a continuous improvement philosophy carried out by employees, he said.

“We’re winning more new business,” he said. “Our customers are doing well, but it’s certainly much more related to new technologies and new products.”

Production starts this summer on shock absorbers for the new Chevrolet Corvette, and in the fall for Ram Power Wagon. New equipment is being installed on the plant floor now to start production in 2014 of parts for the Mercedes C-Class, which Schmahl said will be manufactured in the U.S. for the first time.

The plant is running three shifts, five days a week, with some Saturday overtime.

Schmahl hopes to announce another major investment. This new project, if it happens, would be to upgrade equipment and make facility improvements, Schmahl said. The investment, also likely to be in the millions, depends on several moving factors such as incentives, support from the parent company German multinational conglomerate ThyssenKrupp AG, and customer contracts.

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