ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) — Alabama is becoming a force in the automotive industry, and the northern part of the state is no exception.
On Monday, Toyota Boshoku Aki USA, LLC (TBAKI) and Systems Automotive Interiors Alabama (SAIA) celebrated the grand opening of their Athens production facility.
The $50 million dollar facility at 301 Sanderfer Road West is a joint venture between both companies.
The TBAKI side originally opened in September 2019 and SAIA in April 2020. However, the grand opening celebration was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
TBAKI & SAIA produce seats for several vehicles.
At the moment, they are making seats for the Mazda CX-50 and the Toyota Corolla Cross. The Mazda CX-50 is manufactured right down the road, at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) plant in Huntsville.
SAIA President, Michael Thomas told News 19 that the production facility will produce 150,000 seats for each vehicle.
He said safety is a top priority when it comes to car seating, and they don’t take it lightly.
“There’s a lot of safety that’s tied up in seats, and so we stress the importance of building these seats correctly,” Thomas said.
He also stressed the quality of the work they do.
“Toyota and Mazda have a high standard for quality for these seats,” he said. “So, we take a lot of pride in the quality in which we build these seats” Thomas continued.
Thomas also said both companies are still hiring additional employees.
“We both have a lot more team members that we have to add on, and we have a lot of seats that we’re going to build,” he said.
Governor Kay Ivey was in attendance for the ceremony and helped cut the ribbon on the facility.
In an interview with News 19, she shared the importance of high-paying jobs to the local economy.
“We’re bringing jobs to Alabama folks, and quality jobs, good paying jobs, that’s what we’re working so hard to do,” she said.
“So if our people want to work, and goodness knows they’ve got the opportunity, they’ve got to set up and get to work, because the opportunity is here,” the Governor said.