KTH: An Expanding Footprint in Champaign County

Feb 25, 2019 | News

Marcia Bailey
Champaign Economic Partnership

 

 

Aerial view of KTH Parts Industries, Inc.

KTH Parts Industries, Inc., which makes underbody structural frame components for cars, has become Champaign County’s largest employer. “And we’re probably one of the largest Tier 1 automotive suppliers in the country under one roof,” says Chris Millice, Senior Vice President of General Administration.

KTH, a Champion Level Partner Investor of the Champaign Economic Partnership, started out in 1985 in a 250,000-square-foot facility, west of St. Paris, with about 250 associates. Thirty-seven expansions and 34 years later, KTH now employs more than 1,100 associates. They work in a sprawling complex totaling 1.068 million square feet – alongside 1,085 robots.

Honda is KTH’s primary customer. The company also supplies parts for Tesla.

Market demand in the competitive automotive industry is expected to be stagnant over the next few years, Millice said. But KTH has been preparing for new opportunities as auto manufacturers shift more of their attention to electric vehicles.

For KTH, this means finding ways to make stronger, lighter frames at a more competitive price, Millice said. This year KTH will begin to implement new joining technology capable of manufacturing these new frames.

Millice credits the CEP for helping KTH grow its footprint and workforce in Champaign County. “The CEP has always been 100 percent behind manufacturing. They’re always coming out to see what we need in the way of workforce.” Plus, he says, the CEP helped KTH obtain tax incentives through the Community Reinvestment Area program – to help make the expansions and job growth possible.

Like all manufacturers, KTH faces the challenge of recruiting employees with technical skills, to service presses and robots, as well as production workers. As KTH’s original workforce retires, this challenge will continue.

And the CEP, through its partnerships with schools and employers like KTH, is working to prepare students for these opportunities.

Capitalizing on rural corporate site location opportunities

Rural communities are prime targets for companies considering a corporate site location project. Rural areas in the U.S. cover 97 % of the nation’s land area but contain 19.3 % of the population who are more likely to own a single family home, are older and less likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or be in poverty than their urban counters.

read more

AEP Names Wells Vice President, Sales, Economic and Business Development

American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) has promoted Timothy J. Wells to vice president, Sales, Economic and Business Development, effective Nov. 2, 2020. Wells replaces Mark James who retired last month.

Wells, 55, will lead AEP’s efforts to attract new commercial and industrial customers to its service territory and help existing customers take advantage of AEP’s growing menu of business consultation services. AEP has unique expertise in the energy field and has become a trusted energy advisor to many of its larger customers. Wells will be responsible for leading growth in services that fall outside of the distribution and transmission of electricity, in addition to helping communities bring new jobs to their local economies.

read more