AHK Georgetown opens in Midway
American Howa Kentucky held a grand opening at Midway Station Wednesday, June 7, with top executives of the Japanese company speaking of their company's products and ties to Toyota's Georgetown Plant. "... We have 36 plants across 13 countries and now, we will open our 37th facility here at AHK Georgetown," said Tatsuro Ito, president of the parent company AHK Textile Industry, Ltd. "We are honored to contribute to the benefit of the whole community here in Kentucky." Ito said last year, Japanese auto makers produced four million cars in America. "And from now, it is expected that the production capacity will expand even further in the future. We would like to continue to supply high-quality and high-value products ... for our customers," Ito said. "We hope this plant will become a ... model plant among our American facilities." An official with the state Economic Development Cabinet praised the company and its impact on the region and state. "Our automotive industry is what really drives our state," said Lindsey Ransdell, adding that 100,000 Kentuckians work for foreign-owned businesses. She said AHK's decision to locate in Midway Station spurred more growth, which includes the Lakeshore Learning Materials distribution center under construction next door. AHK Georgetown plant manager Chris Fortino told the Midway Messenger that the company has about 70 workers now and will have 83 by August. Gary McPeak, the plant manager of AHK's Bowling Green facility, which is AHK's North American headquarters, said mass production of headliners (interior roof coverings) will begin in August. Initial hiring and training began in January. AHK's 91,000 square-foot Midway Station plant will make headliners for all three models of three vehicles made at Toyota's Georgetown facility: the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES. It sits on 15 acres at Midway Station, with room for expansion, McPeak said. A sign near the tent showed one example of the link between the two companies: "AHK Georgetown." Asked whether the company's decision to call the plant "AHK Georgetown" had anything to do with the Battle of Midway in World War II, McPeak said, "The plant was named AHK Georgetown because the sole customer is Toyota in Georgetown."