An Italian based automotive parts manufacturer announced plans to more than double the work force of their West Virginia location. Sogefi USA will add 250 jobs to their Wayne County plant as they create a new line of parts for General Motors vehicles.
“Today, thanks to our collaborative efforts and hard work, 250 West Virginians can look forward to good paying new jobs,” Governor Tomblin said as he made the announcement at Sogefi USA’s manufacturing plant in Wayne County Tuesday morning.
A $20 million investment by the Italian company will more than double the plant’s workforce from 160, adding 250 new positions over the next five years
“The 250 jobs we’re talking about are more important than number on a piece of paper,” Tomblin said. “They’re 250 people who will be able to put food on the table, 250 people who will take pride in working for a world class company like Sogefi and they’re 250 West Virginians who will get good paying jobs right here at home.”
Two-hundred and fifty people like Frank Workman, a maintenance technician who started at the Prichard location when they opened in 2004. Workman said Tuesday the added jobs will be good for a county whose unemployment rate sits at more than 6 percent.
“I think this community needs it. There are a lot of people looking for jobs and it’s a great opportunity for the community, this state and all of the people that are involved,” he said.
The manufacturing plant produces automotive parts, including gasoline, diesel and oil filters and cooling modules. Beginning next year, the plant will start producing engine air intake manifolds, creating the need for additional technology and workers.
Sogefi currently employs a variety of personnel at their Prichard location, from the assembly line to warehouses, from accountants to industrial engineers. General Manager Troy Thomas said positions will be added in all departments to handle the increased production.
“Think about this for a moment, over 25 vehicle models that you pass every day on the road are supplied from this plant and that’s soon going to grow,” Thomas said during a press conference at the plant. “So, it’s impossible to miss the product that we produce in this plant.”
The expansion announcement comes after a 13-day investment trip the governor and members of the state Department of Commerce took to Europe in October. There, they met and encouraged businesses to locate or expand their locations in the state, including a private meeting with Sogefi’s CEO Guglielmo Fiocchi in Paris.
Thomas said the international company had planned expansions in North America before meeting with the governor, but his involvement encouraged Sogefi to expand in Wayne County.
“Sogefi’s plan for expansion in North America didn’t necessarily have to be located here in Prichard. There were other states that competed hard for that investment and those jobs, like every state does,” he said, “but obviously we’ve had a good experience here and the governor helped to seal the deal to make sure that Sogefi’s expansion, for this product line, is going to be located here in Prichard.”
“Anytime a company is making that type of announcement, that type of an investment, it shows that they have some faith in West Virginia,” Tomblin said after the announcement. “I think the changes we have made by privatizing worker’s comp, lowering the taxes and so forth, the work force training that we offer in West Virginia is one being noticed.”
Sogefi will begin adding position in January of next year to start producing its newest line of parts for General Motors.