Job cuts coming at Hino factory

WILLIAMSTOWN -Hino Motors Manufacturing USA is expecting to make employee cuts to the Williamstown plant following lower than expected sales, an official said Monday.

“Due to unexpected soft fourth quarter sales… Hino Williamstown will temporarily reduce production volumes to achieve a more optimal inventory level,” said Sandy Ring, general manager of external and legal affairs for Hino at the main office in Farmington Hills, Mich.

A yet-to-be determined number of temporary employees will likely be released this month while no permanent team members will be affected by the cuts, Ring said.

The layoffs and decrease in production numbers are expected to take place at the end of February.

“Hino will continue to monitor this situation closely and fully expects to return to current production volumes in the near term,” Ring said.

The Williamstown plant saw an increase in production throughout 2012 with as many as 37 trucks built a day with a five-day work week, the highest capacity for the facility since it opened in 2007, the company announced in late June.

The state and Hino announced in June 2012 that the facility would hire 30 new full-time employees after production increased the previous January. This increase in full-time employees meant a $6 million investment to the area with new machinery and other improvements to the plant

The Williamstown facility makes all of the Hino Motors trucks sold in the United States with a dealership network of about 135 locations.

In 2011, the plant was making fewer than 20 trucks a day in a three-day work week following the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan. The production of Hino trucks was drastically cut at that time because of a shortage of parts from Japan. Hino is part of the Toyota vehicle family.

Before last summer’s hiring of full-time employees, the plant had about 200 team members.