KALIDA — For Kalida Manufacturing Inc., or KMI as it’s best known in Putnam County, 2013 was far from a ho-hum year.
“We’ve had a very busy 2013,” said Rick Esch, senior vice president and plant manager for KMI.
A subsidiary of KTH Parts Industries in Saint Paris, Ohio, KMI supplies other KTH locations with stamped and welded assemblies for the welded body frames of Honda vehicles.
“We have parts in every Honda vehicle manufactured in North America, some more than others,” Esch said. “If you open the hood of a Honda and all the steel structure you see that surrounds the engine, those are all products manufactured by KTH. Also in the underbody structure, what used to be called the rocker panel, and also the rear frame and rear wheel housing areas, those are all parts that the KTH group specializes in.”
This past year saw significant financial and physical growth for the company.
“Sales wise, we had an increase of 9.5 percent in 2013 over 2012 from a gross standpoint,” Esch said. “As far as our volume, we had a 19 percent increase in 2013, and we shipped a total of 106 million different parts.”
Creating that many parts makes for a fast-paced environment.
“The vast majority of our production processes on the weld side take between 20 and 25 seconds,” Esch said. “So you have that time to load, unload and inspect parts.”
That same increase in production has also been seen in the facility itself, with an additional 135,000 square feet of welding production space and 15,000 square feet of stamping space added since late 2012, with two additional stamping presses set to be installed in September 2014 and January 2015.
“In the 2013 calendar year, as far as the KMI building is concerned, we walked into that year with 325,000 square foot in the manufacturing area,” assistant vice president Bryan Niese said. “Through the projects going on currently — and some of them are not yet finished — that 150,000 square feet of space will put us roughly at 475,000 square feet of manufacturing space.”
This expansion represents a significant investment in the facility.
“As far as equipment building-related and the equipment purchased, including the presses and welding equipment, we had investments of a little over $33 million last year in building and equipment,” Niese said.
Esch and Niese credit the village of Kalida for working with KMI on the expansion.
“We went from a 40-acre plot to 92 acres,” Niese said. “We bought 52 acres adjacent to our existing property for the expansion. We had a lot of infrastructure investment with the village of Kalida as far as roadwork.”
Esch added, “We’ve had a great working relationship with the village and appreciate their support.”
With additional space, the company has added more than 100 new full-time positions in the past year.
“We started the 2013 calendar year with 395 full-time positions, and we ended with 502,” Niese said.
With that many positions in the facility, it is essential to promote safety.
“We pride ourselves on our associates’ safety record,” Esch said. “We are less than 50 percent, actually closer to 25 percent, of the industry average for the total incident rate.”
Long term, the company would like to potentially work with other manufacturers in addition to Honda, but with Honda’s continued popularity and growth, its demands on the company are more than sufficient.
“When you’re as busy as you can be with your current customer, it’s hard to go out and find another one,” Esch said.