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Positive economic news in Southern Ohio

TNS Regional News • Feb 7, 2014 at 11:07 AM

DMAX Ltd., will invest $60 million into its Moraine plant, another piece of good manufacturing-related news for Moraine and the Dayton region.

The plant retooling will help the Dryden Road facility meet federal auto emissions requirements. The investment protects more than 500 jobs at the truck engine plant, said GM and plant officials.

“Finally, we’ve been able to disclose about our future a little bit. Everybody here is happy,” Maho Mitsuya, DMAX president and chief operating officer, said in an interview with the Dayton Daily News Wednesday.

“It means jobs security for at least five more years for this plant,” Mitsuya said. “And it’s also very clear that we’re going to retain our workforce.”

Mitsuya could give no information on sales of the Duramax engine as an option on GM trucks. But he credited DMAX with trying to stay ahead of federal emission regulations.

“What they’re trying to do is, instead of just being compliant in emissions, they’re trying to go a little bit above that,” the COO said.

Mitsuya added: “Since 2008, we are recovering, but we are recovering at a slow pace.”

Specifically, the plant modifications will be a response to new 150,000-mile Environmental Protection Agency tier III emission standards, said Mary Ann Brown, a GM spokeswoman.

Founded in 1998, DMAX has produced almost 1.6 million diesel truck engines since opening in 2000. GM owns 60 percent and Isuzu owns 40 percent of the joint venture.

The engine goes into trucks working in construction, engineering, infrastructure, medical services and other industries, such as the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The Duramax engine is also available in the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates GM’s commitment to continuously invest in technologies that reduce the impact of our vehicles on the environment, while maintaining performance attributes required by customers in the areas of towing and hauling loads,” GM North America Manufacturing Manager Christine Sitek said in a statement Wednesday.

DMAX has invested $760 million in its Dryden Road plant since 2000.

Brown could not say when physical work at the plant will begin, but she said the modifications will be complete for the 2017 model year.

It’s possible there will be temporary new construction jobs at the plant, but GM does not anticipate new permanent hires there, Brown said. Some of the retooling may require work by local contractors, Mitsuya said.

The plant’s workforce greeted the announcement with cheers and applause, Brown said. Plant management shared the news with workers shortly before GM released an announcement Wednesday morning.

DMAX makes the Duramax 6.6L turbo diesel engine. The current Duramax is certified at 397 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and 765 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm.

Brown could not say how emissions-related modifications will affect future performance of the engine.

The announcement is the second round of good auto manufacturing-related news for the city of Moraine in the past month.

On Jan. 10, the chairman of Chinese manufacturer Fuyao Glass, Cao Dewang, signed an agreement in Columbus confirming his company’s intentions to open an auto glass manufacturing operation in GM’s former plant between Kettering Boulevard and Ohio 741. That plant is less than a mile from the DMAX plant.

Fuyao is researching the potential purchase of 1.4 million square feet of the former GM plant, and if the deal goes forward, the company expects to employ about 800 workers there in the next few years, company representatives have said.

The DMAX plant is the last facility co-owned by GM remaining in the Dayton area. GM ceased auto assembly at its nearby Moraine plant — the facility Fuyao is considering — in December 2008.

GM made a similar, $70 million investment in the DMAX plant in late 2009. Dave Hicks, Moraine city manager, said these kinds of investments are welcome because they re-enforce DMAX’s place in the market and its place in the community. The hope is that GM invests in facilities it intends to keep. Brown would not comment Wednesday on how the Duramax engine is faring in the market.

“It’s always good news,” Hicks said.

The plant has about 520 workers. Average salary for the engine plant was unavailable.


By Thomas Gnau - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

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