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ST. MARYS — A local automotive component supplier recently reached a milestone in its almost three decades of operation.
On Friday, Setex marked its 5 millionth car seat manufactured for Honda. Company officials, as well as representatives from Honda and the city of St. Marys, attended a ceremony to mark the occasion.
“As a company, this in conjunction with being here 25 years next May, it’s a tribute to our team members and our consistency as an organization to continue to provide good, quality seats to Honda all these years,” Plant Manager Owen Whittington told The Evening Leader. “It’s a tribute to our customer Honda — they are a great customer and we are excited to be associated with them for 25 years.”
Employees posed for photographs in front of various car seats that marked milestones — including the first ever seat manufactured at the St. Marys facility. That longevity, Whittington said, is a testament to the community.
“Most of our employees are from this area,” Whittington said. “We also have a good relationship with the city and it’s important, from our perspective, to have a presence in this town.”
Last year, Honda presented Setex with one of two corporate citizenship awards out of 177 applicants. The honor was given to firms that were active in the community.
“We were recognized back in April at the Honda Suppliers conference,” Whittington said. “One of the components of the award was what we are doing in our community. And we are involved in the community through our team members and our charitable giving in the community.”
During the brief ceremony, a company official asked who among the employees gathered were present when the first seats rolled off the assembly lines. A few employees raised their hands.
“Because our customer is Honda, we have a very consistent product we produce,” Whittington said. “We try to manage our business in a way that we have never laid off an employee over 25 years. I think that’s something Setex is proud of.”
Whittington also heaped praise on the work ethic and dedication of Setex employees throughout the years.
“Our team members are the ones who build the seats,” Whittington said. “They are the ones who provide value in the product that we build.”
At both of its St. Marys facilities, Setex employs approximately 450 people. Setex’s parent company is Japanese-based firm Tachi-S.
Whittington tried to put the accomplishment into perspective. He noted the general manager told him if Hondas were lined up to signify the 5 million seats, the line would stretch to Japan.
“When you think of 5 million, that’s a high number,” Whittington said. “When you actually put it into context, it’s just, ‘Wow — that’s amazing.’”
St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan praised Setex for its long-standing relationship and impact on the city.
“I think it’s a very good thing for St. Marys — it’s quite an accomplishment,” McGowan told The Evening Leader. “Plants like Setex — these are the size plants you want. They stimulate the community and as companies expand these plants, it’s good. What’s good for Honda is good for Setex and so forth ... We would welcome more companies like them here.”
Development Manager Susan Crotty said the region should suit future auto suppliers and manufacturers given its proximity to rail service and highways.
“It’s apparent to companies who are looking to relocate that it’s a strong community because of our manufacturers like Setex,” Crotty said.