For 40 years, Schaeffler Group USA Inc. – a global automotive and industrial supplier – has invested in the United States, with a significant portion of those investments taking place in Wooster, Ohio. Schaeffler commemorated the facility’s 40th anniversary with a grand opening celebration and unveiling of the company’s latest capital investment.
“Schaeffler’s $60 million capital investment in its Wooster facility advances our automotive business and strongly secures our position as the community’s largest employer,” said Marc McGrath, president, Automotive Americas, Schaeffler. “From 2007 to 2016, our automotive business has outpaced market growth by nearly double and we have expanded our manufacturing capacity in Wooster to keep pace with growth in our automotive transmission business. This latest investment, which builds upon our recent $36.5 million expansion of our Fort Mill, S.C. facility, prepares us for the production of future transmission technologies and further optimizes the facility’s vertical integration.”
“Schaeffler’s growth in Wooster from a small team to a manufacturing campus recognized worldwide has engineered the template for international business development,” Lt. Governor Mary Taylor said, adding: “Schaeffler operates at the highest quality whether in product, people, or community leadership. We are delighted to call them Buckeyes.”
Developing Tomorrow’s Technologies, Today
Throughout the company’s 40-year history in Ohio, Schaeffler has expanded the Wooster campus 20 times, growing from 27,000 square feet to over 800,000 square feet. What began as a team of six employees assembling manual clutches has evolved into nearly 2,000 highly skilled employees. Today, the Wooster facility serves as the global center of competency for Schaeffler’s torque converter product line, and is the leading facility for the development and production of Schaeffler’s E-Mobility solutions in the United States.
“The expansion has allowed us to streamline our current operations and has prepared us for our future development and production of tomorrow's mobility solutions,” said McGrath. “It is a testament to the success of the team in Wooster and positions them to carry forward the tradition of delivering the best solutions for today's vehicles, while also leading the way in future electrification.”
The newly renovated campus equips the Wooster team with the capacity for the production of hybrid modules, the first of many Schaeffler electrification solutions, and a critical part of the company’s E-Mobility strategy. To meet the high comfort demands of its customers, Schaeffler’s hybrid module combines the electric motor with hydrodynamic converter to yield a P2 hybrid solution. Beginning in 2018, the Wooster facility will produce the module for a major U.S. automotive manufacturer. The team is also engaged in pure electric vehicle technology development, including the production of Schaeffler’s e-Axles.
Schaeffler Group CEO Klaus Rosenfeld said, “Our investment in Wooster, Ohio is another milestone in implementing our strategy ‘Mobility for tomorrow.’ Wooster will become our U.S. center for advanced E-Mobility development and will continue shaping mobility through innovation and employee development. This new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility is a testament to our commitment to attract and retain the best and brightest talent.”
People Come First: Wooster Apprentice Program
In addition to its high-tech facility, Schaeffler’s nationally recognized apprenticeship program also helps the global supplier to attract and cultivate top talent in Wooster. Launched in 1980, the program is now the largest program of its kind in Ohio and currently partners with the University of Akron (UA) to offer a variety of courses, including Tool and Die, Industrial Design, Maintenance Electrician and more. The 3.5-year program consists of both classroom and on-the-job training, and currently has an 83 percent retention rate after graduation, providing the Wooster facility with skilled employees that ensure its long-term competitiveness.
Through partnerships with the UA and other Ohio universities and colleges, the Wooster campus develops employees through a number of programs, including:
A Co-Op Program that teaches Schaeffler-specific skillsets while students complete their degree in business or engineering.
An Advanced Manufacturing Degree Program, a partnership with the UA that allows skilled workforce to earn a degree in advanced manufacturing while working fulltime.
Additional training and development programs that foster leadership development, project management, foreign language learning, quality and safety skills.