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Small New Local Company May Mean Big News For State

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OXFORD, N.C. — In a part of the state hit hard by plant shutdowns and layoffs, there is hope.

A Japanese auto parts manufacturer not only is ready to begin production in its new Granville County plant, but also has plans to expand.

The small factory may symbolize big news for the state.

Of the hundreds of transmission parts NT Techno produces, Marvin Hite held the main one Wednesday.

"The main drive shafts for a transmission," said Hite.

Hite said he felt like a small cog after Newton Instruments in Butner laid him off. Now, he is one of 40 new employees at NT Techno adjusting to new technology and culture.

"Working with the Japanese has been great," Hite said. "They're a great bunch of folks to work with. The communication, we're working on, but that's really fun."

Local and state leaders pin big hopes on this small plant, not only for what it means to the local job picture, but also for what the foreign interest could mean for the rest of the state.

"Even in an economic downturn and a recession, people like North Carolina," said Gov. Mike Easley, who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the plant just outside Oxford. "They like North Carolina people. They like North Carolina's workforce."

NT Techno is a major supplier for another Japanese company, AW-NC, which has a plant in Durham. AW-NC supplies transmissions to carmakers, like Toyota.

The state-of-the-art equipment and precision parts at NT Techno require extensive on-the-job training -- even for experienced machinists.

"Oh, I love it," said new employee Lawrence Keeton. "I mean, they're nice, all of them are nice people. They train you well."

Keeton and other employees are excited about learning. Unlike their old jobs, they think their new ones are here to stay.

"This will be more secure," Hite said. "The automotive industry will be here forever."

NT Techno officials say the Japanese-based company wants to be involved in the Granville County community. Wednesday, the company gave the Granville Education Foundation a $5,000 gift.


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