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Stamp of success
PK U.S.A. spins off stamping business
By Jim McKinney - The Shelbyville News
Blue River Stamping Inc., the newest subsidiary of Shelbyville's fast-growing PK U.S.A. Inc., will swing open the doors Monday to show off its spiffy metal parts-stamping operation to the public.
The stamping plant was built at 1755 McCall Drive to make small stamped metal parts for the sub-assemblies of the Isuzu Rodeo, the Nissan Altima, Quest minivan and small pickup truck and the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Gallant.
In limited production since formally opening in July, Blue River Stamping will have a community open house and dedication program Monday. Tours of the stamping plant are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. until noon. A reception will be from noon to 2 p.m. at the Ramada Inn, 1810 N. Riley Highway.
Tours are open to the public. Suppliers, customers, construction company officials and other community leaders have been invited.
Ken Nagai, executive vice president for PK, said the company has had "good support and cooperation from the city of Shelbyville, the chamber of commerce and everyone associated with the new plant. We are happy to be part of the community."
The decision to open the stamping plant in Shelbyville was announced last November after sites in Kentucky, Ohio and elsewhere in Indiana were considered.
Michael Dellinger, executive vice president of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, told officials when plant construction started that he and Shelbyville were happy that PK chose to place the plant in Shelbyville and "help us discover ways to address labor problems" of worker shortages.
So far, Blue River Stamping and PK have been able to find the workers necessary to keep up with demand, said William Kent, general manager of human resources and administrative affairs for PK.
"With all the hiring that we have done, we are getting a good quality of associates," said Kent. PK production workers are considered associates.
Blue River Stamping has hired 55 workers in recent weeks and plans to hire about 25 more within the next few months.
That is in addition to hiring that PK has done, Kent said. The plant now has 535 employees, an increase from the 480 at the plant last November when plans were announced to build the new stamping plant.
Kent said PK is planning to hire about 60 more workers soon. The plant has been advertising for employees locally and in surrounding counties. PK workers earn from $8.49 to $11.20 hourly, while the starting scale at Blue River Stamping is $8.20 and increases according to experience, Kent said.
The three major customers of both PK and Blue River are Japanese automakers Isuzu, Nissan and Mitsubishi. Kent said all three companies are in the middle of major model changeovers.
Parts made by the stamping plant and by PK are for the undercarriages of the vehicles, including clutch and brake assemblies, chassis cross members, spare tire carriers and spring housing assemblies.
Body and inside door panels and air dam panels for some models also are made locally.
The stamping plant represents a $3 million investment by PK as well as by Japanese partners Press Kogyo Co. Ltd. and Mitsui.
Nagai said the stamping plant may seek other metal-stamping business in the future.
But during the first year, its work is expected to be exclusively dedicated to business generated by PK.
Blue River Stamping marks PK's fifth expansion since the company decided to locate in Shelbyville in the summer of 1988.
The present PK plant at 600 Northridge Drive was completed in October 1989.
The fourth expansion of that plant was completed in May, with the separate stamping plant about a mile north opening in July. PK lists its local investment at $104 million.
PK has projected its 1998 sales volume to be $109.4 million.
That would compare to $82.3 million for this year and $88 million for 1996.
PK's peak year to date was 1995, with $103.4 million. In PK's first full year in Shelbyville - 1990 - sales volume was $1.5 million.
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