KALIDA — One company in Putnam County makes parts that go into every Honda vehicle that’s made in North America.
The company is tier two automotive manufacturing company Kalida Manufacturing, Inc., located in an approximately 500,000 square-foot building off Ottawa Street in Kalida.
In addition to having a piece in every Honda, the company is also the largest employer in Putnam County, said Patrick Easton, manager of administration at KMI.
The company employs 430 people full time and also has about 150 temporary workers, all of whom fill out its three full shifts for stamping and two full shifts for welding, with a third partial welding shift, said Bob Fish, senior production manager at KMI.
The company does stamping and welding, but not the type of welding many may picture. It does welding with 290 robots.
The company produces a frame structure that goes into a welding process at Honda to make the structure of the vehicle’s body, said Rick Esch, KMI President.
Employees at KMI receive coil steel, which is staged in the back of the plant’s stamping area. They then set the die to press, set the coil to press and stamp it.
Then the part goes from stamping to inventory before the products are welded together. After that, they are inspected and sent for transport.
Despite the automation, the company has needed more employees since it started using robots, not fewer. When it adds robots, it needs to add people to run them, said Bryan Niese, assistant vice president at KMI.
Carol Kiefer, 61, has worked at KMI for nine years and puts nuts on tire pans and operates a robot. She likes her job because “it’s like family around here,” she said.
“I like the people,” Kiefer said. “We get close in certain areas you’re in all the time.”
She also likes the stability of the job and would encourage others to work at KMI because they would know their job is stable.
In addition to offering employees a stable job, KMI looks for employees to offer it stability.
“We are looking for the long-term associate that we can invest training in,” Easton said. “That in turn is going to help us train future associates.”
The company hires individuals with high school diplomas or equivalent who are “reliable, well-trained” and who the company can depend on, Easton said.
“We’re looking for their character and value,” Esch said. “If someone is willing to learn, if someone is willing to apply themselves and show commitment and dedication, we can take someone with those characteristics and help them become a very successful associate.”
The company promotes internally and has found its employees become more loyal due to internal promotions, Niese said.
KMI is also hiring, as it has openings in all entry-level production positions, Easton said. The company is very proud of the benefits and healthcare it offers, and entry-level positions pay about $15 an hour.
“Our associates are our reason for success,” Easton said. “We’re only as good as our associates.”
Those interested in applying for jobs at KMI can go to www.kalidamfg.com for more information.