For the second time in less than two years AW North Carolina, a Durham company that makes transmissions for Toyotas, is embarking on a multimillion-dollar expansion that will add as many as 250 jobs during the next year.
The company announced Monday that it will invest $14 million in its plant in the Treyburn Industrial Park, where it now employs 1,500 people. AW, like many auto parts suppliers across the country, is ramping up production to keep pace with a surge in auto sales during the last year.
AW is a subsidiary of Japan’s Aisin AW. The company makes automatic transmissions for Toyota’s Camry, Tundra, Tacoma and Sequoia models.
Toyota’s U.S. division saw sales increase 7.9 percent in February compared to the same period a year ago. Sales of Camry models increase 22 percent.
AW announced a $100 million expansion in April 2010 that was to create as many as 360 jobs over two years. That expansion is now complete, the company reported Monday, and the new jobs and investment will be in addition the earlier project.
AW Vice President Will Collins said in an email that the company’s growth is being driven by increased Toyota vehicle sales.
“The products we manufacture and this new project are not connected to supply chain disruptions from Japan as a result of the tsunami and earthquake a year ago,” he said.
Toyota announced earlier this month that, because of growing demand, it was increasing production at one of its transmission manufacturing facilities in West Virginia.
AW workers in Durham make an average of $16 an hour. Collins said the starting pay for the new positions will be $11 per hour with the opportunity for raises as employees gain experience.
The company did not receive any state incentives for this latest expansion, nor did it receive any for its expansion two years ago.
AW was offered $16.75 million in tax credits and other incentives when it opened its plant in Durham in 2000.
The company’s resurgence in recent years has coincided with the auto industry’s turnaround. AW offered buyouts to hundreds of employees in early 2009 as the global recession caused auto sales to drop sharply. Its workforce dipped to as low as 700, but the company began calling some of those displaced workers back as demand picked up.
Although North Carolina is not home to any major auto factories, the industry remains an important source of jobs for the state. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of people employed with auto parts companies declined from 16,636 to 13,434, according to data from the state’s Division of Employment Security.
Those losses leveled off in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, when total employment in the sector was 13,417.