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Auto parts manufacturer AW N.C. furloughs quarter of Durham work force

Posted January 22, 2009
Updated January 23, 2009

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— The auto industry slump caught up with AW North Carolina on Thursday.

The firm, which manufactures transmissions and other equipment for Toyota at a huge complex in the Treyburn Business Park, said it would temporarily idle 280 workers. That represents more than a quarter of the work force at the plant, which is owned by a Japanese company.

AW also offered “voluntary severance” to its salaried work force.

“We told team members that because of the continued economic downturn in the automotive business world, beginning Friday, Jan. 23, the salaried work force is being offered an opportunity to take a voluntary severance package should they so desire,” Will Collins, vice president of human resources for AW, said.

“AW North Carolina also announced that approximately 280 of our 1,100 team members here will be placed on temporary time off for several weeks and will be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits and will continue to receive company-paid medical benefits during that time,” he added.

AW’s facilities covers 820,000 square feet. The firm occupies 123 acres in Treyburn.

Opened in 1998, AW North Carolina increased its employee headcount from 950 as of Jaunary 2006 to some 1,200 in 2008.

According to the company’s Web site, it manufactures torque converters, oil pumps, clutch assemblies, stamped parts and fully assembled transmissions. AW lists Toyota of North America as its customer.

“Over the past several months, we have evaluated a number of options and scenarios as we determine what is in the best, long-term interest of AW-NC and our team members,” Collins said. “We have periodically suspended daily production of transmissions and assigned production team members to other projects, special training, and skills improvement in many areas. We hope these past and current actions demonstrate how much we value AW-NC team members.”

Given the current state of the economy, Collins said the company would have to evaluate future production demand.

“We don’t know precisely what the production needs will be in coming months for transmissions and components we manufacture here,” he said. “We will continue to evaluate developments in the automotive marketplace as well as our anticipated production needs. No specific timetables to complete this evaluation have been set at this time.”

AW North Carolina is part of Aisin AW Co Ltd., a global transmission manufacturer is based in Anjo City, Japan.

The company’s first Treyburn facility, built at a cost of $100 million, employed some 250 people and covered 316,000 square feet.

In 2002, AW North Carolina expanded with an additional 430,000-square-foot building that cost $150 million. AW’s work force grew by another 450 people when that plant opened.

Last fall, as the auto industry began to feel the impact of the slowing economy, AW applied for and received a $50,000 grant from the Incumbent Worker Training Fund through the N.C. Department of Commerce. The company worked with Durham Technical Community College to provide additional training for employees that otherwise might have been laid off.

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  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Jan 23, 2009

    let me be the first to say here....for those that are thinking this is a good thing.....I HOPE you lose your job! if you're not driving around going to work, then maybe you'll be doing your own little bit to "save the planet"!

  • slappyh99 Jan 23, 2009

    Last time I checked Toyota was still a Japanese owned company.

  • chfdcpt Jan 23, 2009

    In the 80's, Detroit quality was th worst it could be; and this was on the heels of the oil embargo of the late 70's.

    Toyota, Nissan and Honda were making great inroads with their fuel efficient vehicles. Detroit went crying to our congress, and the import fees and taxes placed on Japanese cars made them more expensive than US made cars. That is the reason that the Japanese car plants were built in the US.

    They originally were looking up north, due to the car manufacturing and transportation infrastrucure being in place. Of course, the UAW raised holly carajo about having "them there foreiners" next to our good ole plants.

    So for about 20 years they have been building the vehicles here in the US, and have still been kicking Detroit in quality and affordability. Why is it that Detroit are the ones begging for taxpayer money but not the Japanese plants?

    Go figure!

  • 007KnightRider Jan 23, 2009

    mondo -"american automakers have been slow to adapt to a green america and they deserve wut they get."

    That may be true but I for one don't want a slow horsepower, 4-cyl. vehicle I prefer v6's good ole American muscle. I work hard and pay for what I want.

  • cragan Jan 23, 2009

    I work for bahama fire department which provides protection to AW and from what i have seen this company takes care of thier employees the best they can

  • iron fist Jan 23, 2009

    "Temporary time off" does that mean no unemployment benefits?

  • 68_polara Jan 23, 2009

    Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel industry. The title of this news story will one day be viewed the same as we view this title: "Candle Illuminary manufacturer reduces work force after the invention of the light bulb."

    =========================

    "And you get from point A to point B how?"

    Good point affirmativediversity

  • Mustange Jan 22, 2009

    I for one dont see 28 to 30+ thousand dollars for their cars and trucks. Way to much money for vehicles. Does it really cost that much to produce a vehicle? If so why? Unions and 30 bucks an hour maybe.

  • bushisaretard Jan 22, 2009

    There will always be a need for cars and transmissions, regardless of the fuel...until the matter transporter is perfected.

  • Justabum Jan 22, 2009

    There's a very simple solution to all of this - everyone should go out and buy a new car.

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