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PK USA receives national award
By B.J. FAIRCHILD-NEWMAN
PK USA Inc., 600 Northridge Drive, is already a Shelbyville success story, and on Tuesday, in Washington, D.C., the company enjoyed additional recognition when they received a Freedom to Compete Award from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
This national award was presented for the first time this year to employers, organizations and individuals for “initiatives that promote fair and open competition in the workplace.”
PK USA is one of only six to receive the award conferred at the ceremony at EEOC Headquarters.
The EEOC is an agency of the federal government responsible for enforcing the nation’s anti-discrimination laws in the workplace.
The chairman of the EEOC, Carl M. Dominguez, launched the initiative in 2002 on a national level to promote efforts by companies to provide employment opportunities for a more diverse population.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, Dominguez said that the awards were intended to honor companies who work “to ensure that all individuals have the freedom to compete and advance in the workplace on a level playing field.
“Ultimately, the Freedom to Compete Awards are about setting examples and teaching. The best way to further the equal employment opportunity mission is to learn from one another.”
In 1999, PK USA began actively recruiting members of the Latino community as employees in its local plant.
According to Bill Kent, vice president of human resources and administrative affairs for the company, PK USA was not finding enough people to fill its labor force, due to the competition for local workers in Shelbyville, so it actively worked to attract Latino workers.
Kent added that recruitment was just the first step; retaining the workers is the most important accomplishment.
“The industrial base in Shelbyville is so strong,” stated Kent, “that we have trouble finding enough good workers. Anyone in Shelbyville who really wants to work can find a job.”
When the recruitment began, only one percent of PK’s workers were Latino, but today the population makes up 25 percent of the factory’s work force.
When presenting the award to PK USA, Dominguez stated, “We congratulate PK USA and the other award winners and look forward to partnering with them to ensure equal opportunities for all employees.”
Accepting the award was PK USA president, Eiji Umabayashi, who assumed the top job in May from his predecessor, Hiroshige Kakudo. In his acceptance speech, Umabayashi stated, “We are very honored by our selection and the Commission’s recognition of our efforts to select and retain Latinos in our work force.”
Umabayashi said that PK USA is very proud of its Latino employees. “They have worked very hard to make our company successful,” he added.
PK USA started operations in Shelbyville in 1989 and has expanded five times since then. More than 500 people work at the plant, and at least 60 percent of the work force lives in Shelby County.
The company, which has annual sales of $100 million, is a primary supplier of metal body, chassis and plastic-injection parts for automotive companies, such as Isuzu, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota and Honda.
PK USA’s parent company, Press Kogyo Co. LTD, is one of Japan’s largest independent automotive parts manufacturers. The company has more than $820 million in assets and employs more than 2,000 people, with locations in Portugal, Sweden and Thailand as well as its five Japanese facilities.
Others who received the prestigious “Freedom to Compete Award were Giant Eagle Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pa.; the Minority Corporate Counsel Association; IBM Corporation; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; and the State of Maryland.
Copyright 2018 PKUSA Inc.