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Japanese Firm Opens in Barboursville

This represents a $2.4 million investment for Nippon Tungsten Co. Ltd. as it locates its first wholly-owned subsidiary outside Japan. Nippon Tungsten USA was dedicated in a ceremony Wednesday morning hosted by Nippon Tungsten’s president, Shozo Yoshida along with Ryuichi Sakamoto, president of the newly formed Nippon Tungsten USA.

Yoshida thanked the many groups in West Virginia that helped it establish the new operation, saying that the company searched for many years for a suitable place, but once it started working with the supportive staffs of the West Virginia Development Office and the Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO), it reached its goals quickly.

"We’re thrilled to have Nippon Tungsten locate here," said HADCO president Marc Sprouse." We’ve been working with the state development office for several months now to bring this project to fruition, and I am confident Nippon Tungsten will be pleased with their new location and hopefully will grow their employee base."

Nippon Tungsten purchased a 10,000-square foot building at 2986 Cyrus Creek Road. The Barboursville location was good because it’s relatively close to its US customer base, Sakamoto said. Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble is a major client, relying on the blades to cut products such as sanitary napkins and diapers. Both the facility and electricity prices are good in West Virginia, said Sakamoto, who has spent a lot of time in the state getting the business established and who will lead it.

In noting that economic development is a group effort, HADCO President Marc Sprouse recognized the quality building renovation provided by Riedel-Wilks Building Structures. He credited the Robert C. Byrd Institute for its assistance with technical training and specialized manufacturing equipment, thanked Sterling Supply for its role in initiating supply chain relationships, and Okuno International for its role in guiding Nippon Tungsten employees to offerings in the local Japanese community.

Speaking at the dedication ceremony, Governor Manchin said West Virginia is building its base of jobs one job at a time, and this announcement is a key development." People might say "It’s only six jobs", but if you’re one of those six people, it’s the biggest thing in your life," Manchin said.

The company’s first employee, Akiko Praylow, is a Marshall University graduate who moved to Atlanta following graduation. She will move back to the area with her husband. Future new hires will be gradual, said Hollie Hubbert, Asia-Pacific project manager for the West Virginia Development Office. Because the jobs are so highly technical, the company will open with workers transferring from Japan, and will then phase in local employees.

Nippon Tungsten products and technologies include die cutters, ceramic substrate, electrical contact and alloy metal components. The high-tech specialized machine shop in Barboursville will sharpen blades manufactured by Nippon Tungsten’s equipment in Japan. Founded in 1931, the company is headquartered in Fukuoka City on Kyushu Island, Japan. The firm has offices and factories throughout Japan and joint business ventures in China and Thailand. It has about $27.9 million in capital, 511 employees, and carries a 65% marketshare, company officials said.

(Excerpts from the Herald-Dispatch 4/22/2010)