CHARLESTON, W.Va. --A Kanawha County manufacturer will expand, officials announced Tuesday.NGK Sparkplugs plans to add an 11,000-square-foot facility to its Sissonville campus, said Bob Pepper, senior vice president of manufacturing at the company. With the expansion, NGK plans to add 34 jobs by the end of next year, Pepper said.The expansion comes as the company plans to begin producing M12 sparkplugs and ZFAS oxygen sensors for vehicles."The M12 plug and the ZFAS sensor [are products] that our customers will start to migrate towards very quickly because of the demands of the industry relative to fuel economy and the size of the engines changing," Pepper said.Oxygen sensors monitor the emissions of vehicles to determine whether the fuel/air ratio is correct enough to provide optimal fuel economy and reduce emissions, Pepper said. The M12 sparkplug meets the design of engine that the automotive industry is moving toward, he said. Officials plan to start construction on the facility in February and complete it by September, Pepper said. Because of a lengthy training process for the new parts, NGK will begin hiring staff "fairly early" next year, Pepper said. "Our focus, as always, is on quality," Pepper said. "We don't launch a product unless we're 100 percent ready."NGK Sparkplugs was one of the original Japanese companies that Sen. Jay Rockefeller helped bring to West Virginia, the senator said in a statement.Since 1986, Rockefeller has helped bring 21 Japanese companies to the state.Rockefeller said he is proud that the company is thriving and continuing to expand its workforce here."This new expansion reaffirms what I know to be true: West Virginia has the best workers in the world," Rockefeller said. "I know that the team members at NGK will be able to handle anything sent their way and I thank the company for continually putting their faith in me."The company is creating the type of advanced manufacturing jobs the state needs, he said."We have to do more all across the state," he said. "That's why I strongly support innovation, research and development and training West Virginia's workforce for the skills our advanced manufacturing sectors need. Those are keys to our future."
In a written statement, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the company's announcement is a testament to the employees' hard work. "It's clear, NGK's employees are essential to the company's success and ability to remain on the cutting edge of automotive technology," Tomblin said. "I'm proud of West Virginia's workforce and am thankful NGK continues to expand its roots here. "NGK's commitment once again shows the world what great partners our people are to business," he said.Pepper said those seeking jobs should contact NGK's human resources department, which can be reached at 248-926-6900.Reach Lori Kersey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1240.