KIA a good indicator of the area

Published 1:29 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It’s been nearly a month since I arrived in the Greater Valley Area and last Friday I got to do something I’ve wanted to since the moment I arrived. That something was getting a good look at the KIA plant.

Constructed in 2009, the plant looks to be, in my opinion, one of, if not the, biggest employers in the area and this only filled my enthusiasm to get as good a look as I could.

It finally happened this past Friday. I arrived at the facility just before 1 p.m. and was greeted to smiles and welcomes by the security personnel.

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After making sure I was unarmed, I only had to wait a moment before I was greeted by Public Relations Assistant Manager Patrick Sands, who happily told me he used to work for The Valley Times-News.

Sands gladly answered all my questions, telling me that the plant had not only met the expectations set forth by the company, it had exceeded them.

Once the tour got underway, I got my first real experience seeing a large-scale manufacturing facility.

To make things a little clearer I’ve seen production plants in the past, mostly small-scale places working with plastics. However none of those previous experiences can hold a candle to what I saw at KIA.

Robots moving quickly and seamlessly to cut out and assemble parts. Workers completing their tasks with speed and professionalism. An overall facility so clean you’d think it had never been used.

The entire process of assembling a vehicle was so smooth, so orderly, that I could only be impressed by the entirety of it all.

Just seeing the process was all I had expected, but Sands took it a step further by explaining, in detail, what was happening around me. No question I asked was met with silence and I walked away with a lot more knowledge of automotive manufacturing and a better appreciation for the KIA brand.

After the tour I met with Public Relations Senior Manager Corinne Hodges and CAO Vice President Stuart Countess.

The two made an interesting pair, with Hodges wanting to know more about me and Countess wanting to know what I thought of the facility.

This short back-and-forth lasted about 10 minutes and we walked away knowing more about each other.

Overall my experience with the KIA plant gives me a new appreciation for what it takes to make vehicle, the expansiveness of the process and why manufacturing jobs are a cornerstone of the local, state and national economy.

In the end I can only express my excitement for the future of the Greater Valley Area knowing that a place like KIA is located close-by.