Plant’s expansion will nearly double its workforce
Even though it has quite a few plants in Mexico, Germany-based Continental Corp. decided in August to expand its plant in Newport News rather than south of the border. “We had been in Newport News for 44 years,” says Dave Kilgore, plant manager in Newport News. “That helped us justify the expansion of the plant.”
The Newport News plant is part of Continental’s Engine Systems Business Unit in the North American region. The plant produces low-pressure gasoline injection and exhaust after-treatment products. It already has produced more than 265 million fuel injectors.
Continental approached the city about a possible expansion in January. “We asked if there was competition,” says Florence Kingston, the director of development for Newport News. “Back in 2008, this plant was in competition with South Carolina for a consolidation. We won that competition.”
The city’s support over the years was one of the factors that helped the company make its decision. “We were comfortable with the location and the workforce,” Kilgore says.
The company will make an approximate $150 million investment in its Newport News facility over a number of years. The project is expected to create about 500 jobs, nearly doubling the plant’s current workforce. “We will have a whole range of jobs, from straightforward manual labor to highly technical engineering jobs,” Kilgore says.
The expansion will allow Continental to start three product lines for the automotive industry: high-pressure injectors, high-pressure fuel pumps and turbochargers.
The 360,000-square-foot plant can accommodate the expansion within its walls. “We don’t have to expand with bricks and mortar,” Kilgore says. “We are currently in the preparation stage, getting the facility ready. We will have product launches and most of our hiring in the second quarter of 2015.”
The company will start with two lines: high-pressure injectors and fuel pumps. “A couple of years later we will phase in the turbocharging business,” Kilgore says. “It will be the first time we are producing turbochargers in North America.”