Chamber: Murakami named manufacturing business of the year

-A A +A
By Larry Rowell

In a slumping economy, when some manufacturers are plagued by dismal sales that result in worker lay-offs, one manufacturer in Campbellsville is happy to be adding additional equipment and new product lines.

Murakami Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc., manufacturers of sideview mirrors for the automobile industry, was recently presented this year's Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Business of the Year Award.

The company, established in 2001, has added two new mirrors for the Lexus luxury line and the Honda Odyssey, Honda's most popular mini-van, said Sam Polk, human resources manager.

To accommodate the new line, the company installed a $4 million, state-of-the-art paint room.

According to Thomas Waters, vice president of production, MMUS places great emphasis on the quality of the product. The goal, he said, is to produce the highest quality mirror in the automobile industry and to never ship a mirror that will have to be returned because of a manufacturing defect.

To be as efficient as possible, Waters said, the company practices the Japanese business principle of "just in time," which means the company will only have one to two days of inventory on hand. This results in requiring less warehouse space to house the inventory and all the costs associated with having a large inventory on hand, Polk said.

Another Japanese business principle followed at MMUS is "kaizen," the practice of continual improvement, he said. It is a strategy that calls for continuous efforts for improvement involving everyone in the organization - from the CEO to the line worker.

MMUS also believes in taking care of the 300 people who make up the plant's workforce. The manufacturer invests heavily in training and education for the employees as well as making sure the workers are happy and content, Waters said.

The company seeks to promote from within the workforce, he said, matching the best person for the position coupled with additional training and education.

Waters said the company mission is for the employees to go home each day with a happy mindset, feeling that something worthwhile was accomplished.

To keep morale high among the employees, MMUS has various events during the year such as picnics, cookouts and golf tournaments. Workers also received a raise this year, Polk added.

The company is concerned with protecting the environment, having as a goal to be 100 percent "green" - with all waste being recyclable. Waters said they have a little waste from the cafeteria but all other waste is recycled.

Kindergarten students from the Campbellsville Independent School System planted trees and flowers at the front of the factory on Earth Day. MMUS is a big supporter of the Campbellsville/Taylor County adult and youth leadership programs.

Polk said the company and its employees invest in the community. They were the largest contributors for Toys for Tots for the past two years, and MMUS supports Relay for Life and the fight against cancer.

- Larry Rowell is a Kentucky Press Association summer intern. Contact him at lrowell@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.