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Auto components expansion to bring manufacturing jobs, investment to Tuscarawas County

Schaeffler Manufacturing's Wooster location
Schaeffler Manufacturing
/
Ideastream Public Media
Schaeffler Manufacturing's Wooster location will have about 2,000 employees as it expands production. A new plant in Dover will employ 450.

Dover, in Tuscarawas County, will soon get an economic boost as Schaeffler Manufacturing USA expands production of electric vehicles and hybrid automotive components.

The $230 million investment by Shaeffler, a global supplier of motion technology, includes building a new facility and creating about 450 jobs by 2032. It also includes future expansion at its Wooster location and adding 200 jobs there.

“We wanted to actually have a city where it's closer to our product development,” said Prasanna Gurumurthy, the chief operating officer of the Americas region for Schaeffler Manufacturing. “We do a significant amount of product development at our R&D (research and development) facility in Wooster.”

About 1,700 employees work at the Wooster location, making components such as parts for internal combustion engines. In Dover, products will include electrical axles for light-and-medium-weight vehicles.

Skilled labor in Wooster is limited, especially direct operators and team leaders, because of a saturated market, Gurumurthy said.

“That’s why we decided to build in Dover,” he said.

Other Ohio cities within a one-hour radius of Wooster were considered for the expansion, Gurumurthy said. Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky were also competing for the business.

Dover has 21 manufacturing companies, including Allied Machine and Engineering, a top employer in Tuscarawas County. Schaeffler Manufacturing has that potential, too, said Shane Gunnoe, the mayor of Dover.

“Over the next five years, we expect them to become a top-five employer in Tuscarawas County in terms of total number of jobs,” Gunnoe said.

Finding workers

Tuscarawas County’s labor force has a 96% employment rate, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. That makes it a competitive job market for Schaeffler Manufacturing, prompting the company to partner with Kent State Tuscarawas and Buckeye Career Center to help develop skilled workers.

“Very early on we were involved from the aspect of workforce development,” said Bob Aslept, the superintendent of Buckeye Career Center.

Staff from Schaeffler Manufacturing wanted to know what programs Buckeye Career Center had available for high schoolers and adults, and what type of equipment it had for training, Aslept said.

Buckeye Career Center, he said, has apprenticeship programs for high school graduates pursuing careers in machining and maintenance mechanics. The four-year program combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Students are required to obtain employment in the field they’re studying during the apprenticeship.

The school also has 30 programs specifically for high school students, with focus areas including precision machining, engineering and welding. High school seniors can further their training by applying for apprenticeships upon graduation.

Manufacturing companies are always looking for employees, Aslept said.

“We’ve consistently been somewhere around 97, 98% placement” rate for our students, Aslept said.

In addition, Schaeffler Manufacturing has a four-year apprenticeship program in tool and die making, industrial designing, computer numerical control (CNC) planning, maintenance electrician and maintenance mechanic.

“We would do all those in Dover as well,” Gurumurthy said. “So that's how we would get skilled trade in the area.”

The company also has a pre-apprenticeship program for high school students entering their junior year, which puts credits toward the apprenticeship program after graduation.

Some jobs, such as welders and maintenance technicians, are hard to fill, according to a study by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Insights, a research and analysis company. These jobs require specialized training, licensing or a certificate of completion.

“We would develop those people within the local technical school,” Gurumurthy said.

Gunnoe called Shaeffler’s expansion a “generational opportunity.”

“I think it has tremendous, long-term positive potential for both Dover and Tuscarawas County as a whole for employment purposes and really providing good high-wage, high-skilled jobs that can sustain families for our community for years to come,” Gunnoe said.

Construction will begin in Dover in mid-2024 with an estimated completion in the third quarter of 2025. The first phase includes nearly a 130,000-square-foot building. Some of the open positions will include manufacturing operators, material handlers, tooling technicians and engineers.

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