Toyota To Produce New SUV at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing Plant


Toyota is shifting future production plans at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. joint venture assembly plant in Huntsville as an opportunity to build a new SUV.

According to a statement this morning from Toyota, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing will assemble a new, yet-to-be named Toyota SUV along with Mazda’s yet-to-be named crossover model. 

The shift is in response to changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs which are achieving record sales, including Toyota’s best-selling RAV4.

More details related to the future SUV will be released.

Technology Changing the Way Factories Are Operated

It’s a great time to be in manufacturing and Huntsville is quickly becoming the pre-eminent manufacturing hub of the South.

Advancements in technology promise to deliver solid returns on investment while realizing cost savings over the long haul. 

As technology continues its rapid growth and development trajectory, the shop floors are becoming “smart factories” to meet demands for high quality, low cost, and speed.

Modern-day production facilities bear little resemblance to the factories of our parents or grandparents.

For a manufacturing plant embracing new technology, the highest costs are faced on the front end: acquisition, transition, training, and implementing. This is usually the sticking point when it comes to adopting new technology, especially when companies have been working with Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, with some measure of success.

“Innovation matters and it has a big impact,” said James Crean, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Crean Innovation. “Hoping that it doesn’t happen is not a solution.”

Speaking at the recent Technology Interchange Symposium hosted by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the National Defense Industrial Association Manufacturing Division, Crean said several former industry giants, such as Sears’ and Kodak’s “failure to capitalize on the online revolution, combined with the inability to innovate processes and service offerings caused them to fail.”

Some, like the United States Postal Service, he said, “literally need an act of Congress to innovate.”

Crean discussed the business life cycle and need for innovation and continuous improvement.

“Company mortality is accelerating the growth-peak-decline cycle; the average business lifecycle is now 7 to 10 years,” said Crean. “This negatively impacts the supply chain, such as acquiring parts, for example. If a business doesn’t make innovation a part of their business plan, they risk extinction.

“Are they even going to be in business in five years?

“Continuous improvement must continuously evolve,” said Crean. “Digital transformation cannot be ignored; companies and their suppliers must not fall behind. Lean programs are no longer sufficient. Six Sigma can only take us so far. In fact, we’re getting left behind.”

And it’s not just companies, it’s countries, as well.

“Back in the ‘70s, Japan started eating our lunch in the auto and electronics industries,” said Crean. “Then, the Chinese entered the electronics market with faster and cheaper products. Japan failed to adopt driver assist, now the Chinese are the industry leaders.”

He said, “Product is good, but process is just as important. Smart factory goes beyond the factory floor. You can’t focus on the factory floor alone. Digital transformation cannot be ignored; companies and their suppliers must not fall behind. America must lead the Smart Factory transformation. We have to disrupt ourselves. If we don’t do it, China or another country will.

“As a national security imperative, it is critical that the U.S. lead the global industrial base. The countries with a smart factory base will dominate the defense markets.”

Despite Remington Money Woes and Furloughs, Incentives are Protected

It’s too early to tell how or if Remington’s recent furloughs will affect its agreement with the city of Huntsville, according to city officials.

June 3 marked the first day of about a two-month furlough for about 200 workers at the Remington plant in Huntsville. Workers are expected to return in mid-August.

Following the company’s emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, which saw $775 million in debt converted to equity and the company receive $193 million in a new lending package funded by seven banks, the city of Huntsville renegotiated the original incentive package that was put in place when Remington decided to move here.

Last November, the city council approved a new deal that gave Remington an extra three years to meet its objective of employing 1,868 employees or the company forfeits its $12.5 million incentive package provided by the city of Huntsville, the Madison County Commission and the Industrial Development Board.

“Part of the revised agreement gives the company flexibility to respond to market shifts, as long as they fulfill long-term obligations,” Kelly Schrimsher, director of communications for the city of Huntsville, said. “There are benchmarks where the company’s performance is analyzed. These include performance numbers for wages and employees. The next reporting period will be Dec. 31, 2019. Compliance reports, however, will not be delivered until spring of 2020.

“Until the city and state see that report, it would be premature to speculate on Remington’s performance.”

According to reports, Remington has already lost $3 million from a withheld cash incentive payment from the state and repaid more than $500,000 for failing to meet various job and payroll targets, which was part of an overall $70 million incentive package.

Remington did not respond to requests for information by deadline.

Huntsville officials still believe Remington is committed to meeting its goals and to the city.

“This is a 200-year old company in the process of restructuring and reshaping its future to meet a changing marketplace,” Schrimsher said. “The CEO’s office is now in Huntsville. We believe the company is committed to having a strong presence here, and our agreement gives them time to work through their reorganization.

“Conversations to date have reflected this continued commitment.”

Schrimsher also said the city is well protected under the agreement it has with Remington.

“The city still has 100 percent control of the Remington campus,” she said. “To date, Remington has not earned any percentage of the facility. Should Remington ultimately be found in default of its contract, the company would owe the city $12.5 million, which was the city’s investment in the project or surrender the campus. The campus market value far exceeds the $12.5 million mortgage.

“Huntsville’s investment was relatively small considering the hundreds of millions of dollars Remington has invested in the plant and payroll to date. If Remington walked away tomorrow, Huntsville would be made whole.”

Schrimsher cited the positive impact Remington had after locating in the city from a jobs standpoint, regardless of what happens in the future.

“To put this in further perspective, the Huntsville marketplace is in an entirely different position when Remington entered in 2014,” she said. “At that time, Huntsville was heavily dependent upon federal employment dollars, and Mayor Tommy Battle and the Chamber (of Commerce) were working hard to diversify and expand our employment base beyond federal contracting. Advanced manufacturing was a target market, but it’s also highly competitive, and every state in the country is fighting for good-paying jobs for skilled workers.

“Landing the Remington plant put Huntsville on the map for advanced manufacturing. After the Remington announcement, the city caught the eye of Polaris, then GE Aviation, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Blue Origin, and now Mazda-Toyota. Remington was a catalytic project for Huntsville. At present, there are thousands of jobs available for highly skilled workers in Huntsville.”

Navistar to make $125M expansion here; add 145 jobs

Navistar, which has an engine plant in Huntsville, will expand its operations here with the addition of a gear box and engine manufacturing facility.

The Huntsville City Council approved an agreement with the company for the $125 million plant that will create some 145 jobs. Navistar employs 126 workers at its diesel engine plant near Huntsville International Airport. The new facility will be adjacent to the engine plant.

Navistar’s International A26 engine built in Huntsville.
(Navistar Photo)

“The Huntsville facility is an important part of Navistar’s manufacturing footprint, and we look forward to the new opportunities this investment allows,” said Lyndi McMillan, Navistar’s director of business communications. “This proposed expansion would increase the company’s capacity to continue to build its International A26 engine as well as produce its next-generation big-bore diesel engines in Alabama.”

Construction is expected to start next year with completion scheduled for December 2021. It will begin operations by the end of September 2022, according to the agreement.

Turner Construction Completes Work on Torch Technologies Integration and Prototyping Center

Turner Construction has completed work on Torch Technologies’ Technology Integration and Prototyping Center.

The $10 million facility at 4050 Chris Drive in Huntsville is part of Torch Technologies’ growing campus in South Huntsville and consists of a 35,000-square-foot, two-story office space with an attached 10,000-square-foot high-bay facility. It incorporates offices, labs and open vertical spaces where large pieces of equipment can be installed and tested.

Torch Technologies continues to invest in its South Huntsville campus, supporting the City of Huntsville’s efforts to redevelop South Huntsville, a once vibrant area of town that is seeing an increase in development.

The new Technology Integration and Prototyping Center is located across the street from the Freedom Center, a project Turner completed in 2017 that included the renovation of a 40,000-square-foot, four-story building at 4090 South Memorial Parkway to create Torch Technologies’ current headquarters.

“Our previous experience building defense and aerospace facilities in Huntsville and elsewhere made us ideally suited for this project,” said project executive Lee Holland of Turner’s Huntsville office. “We’re very pleased to continue our partnership with Freedom Real Estate & Capital and Torch Technologies and to help in the continued revival of South Huntsville.”

Collaborating with Turner on the project were Matheny Goldmon Architects AIA; 4Site (civil engineering and landscape architecture); SSOE (mechanical and electrical engineers); and PEC Structural Engineering.

“Having worked with Turner in the past on the construction of the Freedom Center, we knew the outstanding quality of work that the company is capable of delivering,” said Bill Roark of Torch Technologies and Freedom Real Estate. “Our Technology Integration and Prototyping Center will enable Torch to take on more complex projects than before, including developing instruments to advance warhead testing.”

Raytheon, United Technologies ‘Merger of Equals’ Creates Defense-Aerospace Giant

Raytheon and United Technologies have announced an all-stock agreement the two companies call a merger of equals.

It will also create the defense-aerospace giant Raytheon Technologies with an expected $74 billion in annual sales, second only to Boeing’s $101 billion. The transaction website is www.futureofaerospacedefense.com.

Both companies have a significant presence in Huntsville. 

“Today is an exciting and transformational day for our companies, and one that brings with it tremendous opportunity for our future success,” said Tom Kennedy, Raytheon chairman/CEO. “Raytheon Technologies will continue a legacy of innovation with an expanded aerospace and defense portfolio supported by the world’s most dedicated workforce.

“With our enhanced capabilities, we will deliver value to our customers by anticipating and addressing their most complex challenges, while delivering significant value to shareowners.”

The merger of Raytheon, a leading defense company, and United Technologies, a leading aerospace company, comprised of Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney, will offer a complementary portfolio of platform-agnostic aerospace and defense technologies.

“The combination of United Technologies and Raytheon will define the future of aerospace and defense,” said Greg Hayes, United Technologies chairman/CEO. “Our two companies have iconic brands that share a long history of innovation, customer focus and proven execution. By joining forces, we will have unsurpassed technology and expanded R&D capabilities that will allow us to invest through business cycles and address our customers’ highest priorities. Merging our portfolios will also deliver cost and revenue synergies that will create long-term value for our customers and shareowners.”

Raytheon plans to consolidate its four businesses into two businesses: Intelligence, Space & Airborne Systems and Integrated Defense & Missile Systems. The new businesses will join Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney to form the four businesses of Raytheon Technologies.

Hayes will be named CEO of Raytheon Technologies and Kennedy will be appointed executive chairman. Hayes will assume the role of chairman and CEO two years after closing. 

Mazda Toyota Pays Tribute to Huntsville’s Space History

As a tribute to Huntsville’s leadership role with the U.S. space program, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., will name its two assembly lines Apollo and Discovery.

“Thanks to our team members’ creativity and innovative thinking, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is proud to name our two future assembly lines Apollo and Discovery in a nod to our city’s heritage as the birthplace of our nation’s space program,” said Mark Brazeal, vice president for administration at MTM. “The scores of brilliant men and women who worked tirelessly to further mankind’s progress and exploration into the unknown gives our team motivation to add to the Rocket City’s history as a producer of world-class vehicles.”

Apollo was NASA’s program that resulted in 12 American astronauts walking on the moon. The Space Shuttle Discovery completed 39 missions, surpassing the number of flights made by any other orbiter in NASA’s fleet. Discovery also launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and was the first American spacecraft piloted by a woman, Eileen Collins.

Construction of the MTM plant remains on schedule, with the start of production expected to begin in 2021. Up to 4,000 new jobs will be created and hiring is underway.

In August 2017, Toyota and Mazda announced a collaboration to establish MTM, a $1.6 billion joint venture that will assemble up to 300,000 vehicles annually. The plant is in the Greenbrier area of Huntsville-Limestone County.

Remington Furloughs 200 Huntsville Workers

Monday marked the first day of about a two-month furlough for some 200 workers at the Remington plant in Huntsville.

Workers are expected to return in early to mid-August, according to reports. Calls to Remington were not returned. Huntsville city officials were not available for comment.

The Alabama Department of Commerce said it provided Remington with information to help the affected workers.

According to reports, the furloughs were part of companywide layoffs across the company’s plants in Ilion, N.Y.; Lonoke, Ark.; and Huntsville.

It’s been almost a year since the nation’s oldest firearms manufacturer emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy saw $775 million in debt converted to equity and the company received $193 million in a new lending package funded by seven banks, including Bank of America.

Following the company’s bankruptcy, the City of Huntsville renegotiated the original incentive package that was put in place when Remington decided to locate in Huntsville.

The city council approved the new deal in November that gave Remington an extra three years
to meet its objective of employing 1,868 employees or the company forfeits its $12.5 million
incentive package provided by Huntsville, the Madison County Commission and the
Industrial Development Board.

The company has also lost $3 million from a withheld cash incentive payment from the state and repaid more than $500,000 for failing to meet various job and payroll targets, which was part of an overall $70 million incentive package, according to reports.

Auto Supplier DaikyoNishikawa to Locate First U.S. Plant in Huntsville, Creating 380 Jobs

Japan-based DaikyoNishikawa US will build a $110 million auto parts manufacturing facility in Huntsville, the company announced Tuesday.

“Huntsville welcomes DaikyoNishikawa to our growing regional network of automotive suppliers,” Mayor Tommy Battle said. “They’re joining an outstanding partnership with Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A., and we’re collectively witnessing the birth of a major automotive hub for the U.S. and the world.”

The company will be on-site at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. assembly plant under construction. DNUS will create approximately 380 jobs and produce plastic automotive parts. Construction is expected to start in July and production slated for 2021.

DNUS is the first on-site partner announced for Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A., a $1.6 billion joint-venture assembly plant being built on a 2,500-acre site in the Limestone County portion of Huntsville.

“With this being DaikyoNishikawa’s first U.S. manufacturing facility, we welcome them home to Limestone County and look forward to being a key partner in their future success,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly. “This $110 million investment that will bring 380 new jobs is a testament to the strong workforce in our region that has earned global recognition.”

DNUS has established a temporary office in Huntsville and a human resources director to prepare for hiring. Jobs are listed at joblink.alabama.gov.

Limestone, Madison Counties Lead State in Capital Investment, Job Creation

Limestone and Madison counties topped all other counties in Alabama for new capital investment (CAPEX) and job creation, according to the 2018 New & Expanding Industry Report just released by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Limestone County led the state with CAPEX of $1.7 billion, followed by Madison County with $1.1 billion in new capital investment. The Limestone County figures are heavily driven by the $1.6 billion Mazda  Toyota Manufacturing USA plant under construction in Huntsville-Limestone County.

Furthermore, according to the report, Limestone County ranked first in job creation at 4,172 jobs. Madison County ranked No. 3 at 1,043 jobs.

However, Harrison Diamond, Business Relations officer for the City of Huntsville, said the report contains a caveat.

“The numbers for our area are even better when you realize that Huntsville is now comprised of Madison, Limestone and Morgan counties,” said Diamond, “Limestone’s numbers included some investment not in Huntsville, but when you pull it all together, Huntsville’s CAPEX is $2.7 billion with 5,189 jobs created in 2018.”

Growth in automotive and aerospace remained strong in 2018, boding well for North Alabama, which has momentum for the rest of 2019.

The report outlines 357 economic development projects totaling a record-breaking $8.7 billion in CAPEX statewide with 17,062 jobs from new and expanding industries. That is the highest increase since 2015 at $7.1 billion.

“This success solidifies my belief that we are building a more dynamic economy in Alabama and creating a pathway to greater prosperity for its citizens,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Projects in the City of Huntsville

Company                                                                  Year     Jobs                 Investment ($)

BAE Systems Inc. 2018 200 45,500,000
BWXT 2018 5 0
Custom Assembly inc. 2018 75 0
DC Blox 2018 5 10,867,600
Dynetics 2018 130 24,455,643
EOS 2018 100 2,500,000
Facebook 2018 100 750,000,000
Kohler 2018 149 175,470,698
LG Electronics 2018 159 28,100,000
Mitchell Plastics 2018 95 18,315,000
Mynaric USA 2018 2 0
Novocol Healthcare 2018 7 1,000,000
Radiance Technologies, Inc. 2018 60 18,990,000
Redline Steel 2018 50 11,111,454
St. Gobain 2018 2 13,000,000
Torch Technologies 2018 40 6,325,000
Toyota/Mazda JV 2018 4000 1,600,000,000
VT Miltope 2018 10 0

Total                                                                                                5,189               2,700,000,000