Manufacturing hub slated for Danville area

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe with Ken Ishii of Kyocera Corp.
Photo by Matt Bell, courtesy Danville Register & Bee

A maker of high-performance cutting tools is setting up a manufacturing hub in Danville.

Kyocera SGS Precision Tool Inc. will spend $9.5 million to open a facility in Cyber Park, which is owned by the Danville-Pittsylvania County Regional Industrial Facility Authority. The project, called Kyocera SGS Tech Hub LLC, is expected to eventually create 35 jobs.

Jason Wells, the company’s chief technical officer, likes the workforce opportunities he has found in the Danville area.

“Community leaders are doing tremendous things to reinvent Danville,” he says. “It put a world-class training program in place to produce young people with a high level of skills in machinery and manufacturing. It’s difficult to find good, high quality, well-trained people.”

The company’s roots go back to Ohio-based SGS Tool Co., a family-owned company founded in the mid-1940s that makes solid carbide rotary cutting tools. The company became Kyo­­­­­­­­cera SGS Precision Tools when it was acquired by Japan-based Kyocera Corp. in May.

Before it was acquired, SGS Tool was exploring the possibility of opening a technology hub that could produce and manage smaller custom-tailored projects. It had a similar business in Wokingham, England.

“We saw their success and knew we needed to transfer that to the U.S.,” Wells says. “We also saw tailored solutions as a growing market in our industry. It has grown to almost 40 percent of the cutting tool market.”

SGS Tool considered opening a new stand-alone company in Ohio, but it also looked at South Carolina and Virginia. “A lot of business was migrating to the Southeast,” Wells says. “One of our largest end-user customers, Rolls-Royce, moved to Prince George, and they shared why they chose Virginia.”

Kyocera SGS Tech Hub received a $200,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund as well as $350,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. McAuliffe met with company officials during the 2015 Paris Air Show and a marketing mission this year in Europe.

The company will build a 30,000-square-foot facility, which it expects to complete by November 2017. In its first year of operation, the company plans to hire 10 to 12 employees. “By 2019, we should be up to about 35,” Wells says.

Danville officials believe the facility will attract other similar companies to the area. “We are confident in thinking this operation will bring additional skilled professionals and engineers to the Danville area, and that is big,” says Linwood Wright, who is an economic development consultant for the city.

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