ANNA — Students from 19 area high schools received a look at career opportunities offered at the Honda of America Anna Engine Plant when the company hosted its first Manufacturing Day Wednesday. Tours also were held Tuesday for the students.
“Today is extremely important to Honda,” said Paul Dentinger, Anna plant manager and chief engineer. “The Anna plant first opened on July 22, 1985, and we’ve been manufacturing here for 32 years.”
Many of the employees, he said, have worked at the plant since it first opened its doors.
“They are now getting ready to retire,” said Dentinger. “We preparing for the next generation of our workforce.
“We want to share what we do with the local community and students,” he said. “We have 19 local schools visiting us. That’s 600 kids in grades 9-12.”
Dentinger said the planning process for the day began a year ago. The Honda team reached out to the local schools and teachers in planning the event.
“This day is extremely important as we move forward,” said Dentinger. “We are always hiring (new employees).
When the plant opened in 1985, there were 94 Honda associates employed at the plant. Today, the plant employs 3,200 people.
“We have a mix of high school graduates and college graduates working here,” said Dentinger. “The people who helped build this plant came to use right out of high school.”
Some of the employees are hired through a temp agency while others are hired directly by Honda.
“This plant started out as a cornfield. Now it’s a 2.5 million square foot plant,” he said. “Honda has invested $2.7 billion in this plant. The farmhouse on the property was the first project house for us when we built the plant.
“Those local ties are still here. There are cornfields and soybean fields all around us,” he said. “I’d like to say thank you to all the hardworking men and women who have made the plant into what it is today. It’s because of them that we continue to grow.”
Dentinger has been with Honda since 1990.
“I’ve been here for 27 years,” said Dentinger. “I’ve always been at Anna. I came straight out of Ohio Northern University into Anna. I worked my way up to become the plant manager.
“There’s never a dull moment here,” he continued. “We’ve been under a total expansion since I’ve been here.”
The engine plant hit a a milestone earlier this year when the 25th million engine rolled off the production line. It will be in one of the 2018 Accord vehicles.
“A lot of the students going on the tours have moms and dads working here,” said Dentinger, a tradition he hopes continues with the next generation of employees.
During the tour, the students received information about the various employment opportunities at the plant and the level of education needed for the positions.
Greg Williams, of Marysville, told the students he has been with the company for 31 years.
“I’ve never stopped learning,” he said. “You can build your career here.”
He said when he first started, he worked on the line building cars. He then moved to maintenance and then to engineering for 10 years. He has been a member of innovation teams during his career.
“There are great opportunities at Honda,” he said.
After touring the plant, the students visited a mini career fair where schools and colleges had displays set up. They talked about what kind of training they had that Honda is looking for in their employees.
David Barth, an instructor at Edison Community College, said the tour gives the students a change to see what kind of job they might be looking for after graduation.
“We can explain what type of degrees we offer that Honda wants them to have to get a job with them,” said Barth. “I wish the parents could come through with the students so they can see what a clean plant this is and how much technology is involved. These are thinking jobs at Honda.”
Edison offers three degrees in engineering, he said, that fit well with the jobs Honda has open.
Marion Local High School student Luke Schwieterman said the tour was very interesting.
“It’s now what I expected Honda to be like,” said Schwieterman. “It’s a lot bigger and a lot cleaner. There’s also more robots being used.”
Tim Knapschaefer, Marion Local, said he expected the plant to be “real loud and dirty.”
“It’s a lot quieter than I expected,” said Knapschaefer. “It was cool to see how everything flows in there.”