Hamilton’s ThyssenKrupp Bilstein halfway through latest expansion

Auto supplier ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc. showed no signs of slowing down growth when in summer 2014, Hamilton’s largest manufacturer made its third expansion announcement since 2011 — and its largest one yet.

Now just over a year later, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein expects to start production by the end of 2015 of its newest shock absorber technology for automaker customers, President and Chief Executive Officer Fabian Schmahl said.

Plans called for Bilstein to make an approximately $26 million investment including a 60,000-square-foot building expansion to add more space on the cramped factory floor. Most of the investment was to be spent on new equipment, including more advanced and almost all customized machinery, Schmahl said at the time of the announcement.

Also as part of the expansion and in exchange for tax breaks, the company committed to creating at least 200 new jobs by the end of 2017.

The Journal-News checked in this week with the growing auto supplier that continues to hire. Trial runs of the new shock absorber products with improved suspension and lightweight capabilities are underway now, Schmahl said.

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“We continue to grow and we continue to still have a significant amount of job openings,” he said.

The first of two phases of the $26 million expansion has been completed, he said, and workers were seen operating out of a finished approximately 30,000-square-foot addition. A new plant entrance has opened and the employee cafeteria was updated with fresh vending selections.

“We put a lot of time and effort into benchmarking what is best in class,” he said.

There are currently about 40 to 50 job openings such as assembler, CNC machinist, industrial engineer, quality manager, trainer, welder and more, according to the company. To apply, visit thyssenkruppusjobs.com/search and once there, type in “Hamilton, Ohio” in the location box to find local listings.

“We’re spending more and more resources internally to provide training opportunities,” Schmahl said. In addition to on-the-job training programs, hires are also learning about lean manufacturing principles and gaining more in-depth product knowledge, for example, he said.

Hamilton is the North American headquarters of ThyssenKrupp Bilstein at 8685 Bilstein Blvd., and a division of German-based ThyssenKrupp AG. In North America, Bilstein employs nearly 700 people, a big majority of which are located in Hamilton, Schmahl said.

Bilstein’s growth is attributed to the rebounding auto industry and winning new business from customers. “We’re actually growing faster than the market,” Schmahl said.

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