Fuyao will have close to 3,000 employees working in two plants when the company is fully operating, with most of them in Moraine, Cho Tak Wong, chairman of Fuyao Glass Industry Group, said Friday.
The Fuyao Glass America Inc. plant in Moraine has about 1,400 employees today, and it will need an additional 1,000 employees, Cho said. Between 200 and 300 workers will draw paychecks at the company’s raw glass supplier in Mount Zion, Ill.
“We’ve hired about half of what we need,” Cho said Friday at the Moraine plant. Rebecca Ruan-O’Shaughnessy, director of legal affairs and administrative services at Fuyao, translated for him.
“It will probably be more than 1,000 people that we still need. We will need more than 2,000 people because we have the equipment there, we have the positions to staff that equipment.”
The Moraine plant shapes, laminates and generally adds value to the raw glass supplied by the Illinois plant.
Cho described his total $750 million U.S. investment as “one project, two plants.” The Moraine plant has accounted for about $450 million of that total.
Cho (also called Cao Dewang) bought 1.4 million square feet of the former General Motors plant on West Stroop Road in May 2014 for $15 million. It eventually will be the largest auto glass production plant in the world, and it represents the largest Chinese investment in Ohio, with about 28 production lines expected to operate when the plant is fully operational.
The company is on track for making 4 million sets of auto glass for the original equipment manufacturing market by the end of 2016 — supplying customers such as GM, Ford and Honda. The plant also will serve after-market glass suppliers, which include companies such as Safelite.
“We believe our volume will be even larger than that,” Cho said, referring to the 4 million benchmark.
Cho is confident that the U.S. auto market will continue to support his U.S. investment.
“Fuyao now is the largest automotive glass manufacturer in the world,” he said. “All the automakers in the world use Fuyao glass. Especially with GM in the U.S., we are their largest global glass supplier. Chrysler, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota — they are all my customers.”
His customers asked him to establish a U.S. facility, he said.
Cho said he visits the Moraine plant about once a month and is pleased with the progress the plant has made since retrofitting work there began in July 2014.
Asked if he is finding the workers he needs, he said, “We are working hard on that.”
United Auto Workers representatives have picketed the Moraine plant. Asked if he was concerned about attempts to unionize his workforce, he said the future of the plant rests in the hands of its workers.
“My perspective on this is still optimistic,” he said. “I have decided to make a large-scale investment here through various considerations.”
The Dayton area has embraced him, and he praised the city and the state continuously in the interview.
“I felt that Dayton is a beautiful place. People are down-to-earth and welcoming. It’s a place that’s worth my additional investment,” he said.
“As the chief investor in this project, all I can do is do my best to respect the people and further my contribution to society.”
Cho gave $7 million to the University of Dayton last year to support the university’s China Institute in an industrial park in Suzhou. He estimated that he has donated a total of more than $1 billion in his 30-year business career.
Asked if he’s eyeing other philanthropic opportunities in the Dayton area, he said: “We’re still in the stage of gathering our wealth and capital. I have already donated $7 million. I firmly believe that once our operation is normal and sustainable, there will be more activities in these areas.”
Fuyao/By the numbers
$450 million: What Fuyao Glass America Inc. has invested into its Moraine plant since 2014.
$15 million: What Fuyao Glass Industry Group Chairman Cho Tak Wong paid to buy much of the former auto plant.
2,400: Estimated number of workers who eventually will be employed at Moraine-based Fuyao Glass America.
1,400: Current number of workers at Fuyao Glass America.
Sources: Fuyao, Cho Tak Wong