RUSSELLS PONT — Honda opened its Ohio transmission plant 25 years ago Saturday, July 10, when the company moved transmission production from its Anna engine plant to a parts supplier in Russells Point.
“They trusted us to start taking on the transmissions out there,” said Laurie Davia, an assistant manager who started working as an assembler for Bellemar Parts Industries before it was purchased by Honda in 1997. Davia was just 20 years old.
Honda has produced more than 21 million transmissions in the U.S. since production started in Anna in 1989. Production is now split between the Russells Point facility, which also makes a series of gear sets, transfer cases and four-wheel drive differentials, and a second transmission plant that opened in Tallapoosa, Georgia in 2006.
The company estimates more than 850,000 transmissions are made at the 1.1-million square-foot Ohio transmission plant each year, including a two-motor hybrid system used in the hybrid Honda Accord, CR-V and Insight sedan that Gerald Bruch, vice president of development and manufacturing for Honda U.S., described as “the first step” toward Honda’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2040.
The facility started making four-speed automatic transmissions in 1996, later adding five- and six-speed automatics and continuous variable (CVT) pulley driven transmissions before the introduction of the two-motor hybrid electric system in 2018. The plant employs roughly 1,150 workers today.
“Starting out so young at Honda gave me a good start,” said Davia, who now manages a business control group.
In 2014, Honda installed two wind turbines at the Russells Point plant to help power the facility as part of its carbon-neutral project.
“We want to be a company that society wants to exist,” Bruch said. “And in order to do that, we want to be an environmentally friendly company.”