Hino plant manager talks about sales, safety

PARKERSBURG – Hino Motors in Williamstown has continued to grow as it becomes a part of the company’s overall position in the world, the plant manager told the Parkersburg Rotary Club Monday.

Since coming to Williamstown in 2007, the truck manufacturer has grown and continued to make strides, said Steve Stalnaker, vice president and plant manager at Hino.

“Our product has been recognized as a really good truck,” he said.

Hino has been recognized by a number of organizations for leading the truck market and for quality performance, Stalnaker said.

“Where does (the plant in) Williamstown, W.Va., fit into that global picture,” Stalnaker asked. “Around 70 percent of Hino’s production is expected to be outside of Japan (its home country) this year.”

In North America, Hino produced around 3,000 trucks in 2009. In 2013, that number went up to around 7,000.

The class Hino is in, Class 6 and 7 medium and heavy duty trucks, their share was 11 percent of the market in 2013.

“That is going to grow to 12 percent this year,” Stalnaker said. “What separates us as a company?”

It is their attention to safety, he said.

“I think that is what separates a really outstanding company from others,” Stalnaker said. “We have to protect our valued team members.”

Before going out on the floor, new employees spend time training on the potential hazards they could face beyond just going over the “dos and don’ts.”

The company has regular reviews of the processes they do to better identify potential risks.

“We don’t want to countermeasure a problem after it happens,” Stalnaker said. “We want to do it before it happens.”

They engage the employees with coming up with countermeasures.

“We don’t just want them to identify the risk is, we want them to help solve it,” Stalnaker said. “Often, their input and ideas are most effective in identifying and eliminating the problem.”

Sometimes the simpliest solutions are the most efficient, he said of their people coming up with very simple solutions in dealing with potential risks. They involve everyone involved in that process.

Hino’s trucks are not the least expensive trucks on the market.

“They actually sell for a premium,” Stalnaker said. “Quality defines us.”

Hino use the Kaizen process where anyone in the company can come up with an idea and go through a process to implement it.

Employees are expected to come up with a number of Kaizens over a period of time.

“Many small Kaizens can impact an organization,” he said.

The Williamstown plant has 210 employees.

“What I tell people at the plant is I want to continue to see it grow,” Stalnaker said. “Manufacturing jobs not only impact their lives, but the lives of the community.”

“Our people are not only dedicated to making a quality product, they are dedicated to the community better.”