Inside INdiana Business

VP: SIA reputation created expansion opportunity

(photo courtesy of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Subaru of Indiana Automotive has broken ground on a nearly $160 million expansion at its Lafayette plant. The project will enable the vehicle assembly plant to begin producing transmissions and SIA Executive Vice President Scott Brand says the plant won the deal because of its performance over the past three decades. Brand says the project is expected to take three years to complete and will create up to 350 jobs.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Brand said the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t had much of an impact on the progress of the expansion.

“We’re confident that the need for this is definite. We definitely need to produce transmissions here in the states,” said Brand. “The project timing – it’s a fairly long timeline. We’ve announced that in the summer of 2023, we would start production so we’re starting this project three years ahead of when we’ll actually be producing.”

Brand adds the expansion is indicative of SIA’s history in Lafayette, as well as the region’s reputation.

“I think this region of the state has a rich history in manufacturing and there are a lot of folks that come from the general region here around Lafayette and surrounding counties that have had family members or themselves have worked in manufacturing in various capacities and they understand that we make things. The region itself also is very conducive from a logistics standpoint, from an accessibility standpoint and we’ve got a great relationship with both the local community, as well as the state.”

Brand says over the next three years, the automaker will take care of the building construction, equipment acquisition and installation, and a lot of training for the new employees who will be working in the new assembly shop.

“The pandemic that occurred this spring is a temporary setback but it really hasn’t swayed us from the overall objective of getting this in place by the summer of 2023.”

SIA shut down production from late March to the second week of May due to the pandemic. Brand says the automaker slowly ramped up production and is now back to full operations.

“We have had some instances of folks that believed they had symptoms or have had contact with people that do have the coronavirus and we’re managing that through a series of protocols here in the plant.”