Yes, the significance of us being actually brought to where they build these awesome Honda machines, to witness the first official Honda Pioneer unit to roll off the production line in this impressive 536,150 square feet facility, was huge. We loved having a chance to hear the many speeches from company’s executives and politicians, but more importantly, fascinated by the joyfulness of all employees, even surprised, by the extreme enthusiasm of some.
HSC, which should not be confused with the latest addition to Honda’s collection of high-performance cars, is one of the company’s 14 major factories in North America located in Timmonsville, South Carolina. Honda of South Carolina is an ISO 9001 and 14001 certified manufacturing plant specializing in the production of Honda ATVs for 15 years now.
The devotion of workers was readable in their demeanor on this exciting day devoted in honouring their successes over 15 years in operation and rolling the first Pioneer off the production line. Every muscle and bone was passionately contributing in a collective effort, to boogie to the beat of celebration inducing tunes. Honda associates, as they call them here at HSC, were obviously proud and excited about the Pioneer Side x Side, an all-new off-road vehicle they took from design to production in record time.
The lobby is decorated solely with very significant objects, each a testament of some great accomplishment for the company, or an artist’s mechanically inspired sculpture, present to maybe represent the creativity of Honda’s engineers. The most pleasing decorations to my eyes were just units of models many of us have come to know and love as being among the toughest and most reliable you can find. The milestones they represent are surely not a surprise, yet still very impressive: the 2.5 millionth Rancher coming off the line in 2012, two millionth Rubicon engine from the same year, or two millionth Sportrax from back in 2007, among others, were all shielded with “Do Not Sit” signs on their comfortable looking seats. White is the dominant paint choice for each and every wall and floors of every corner of this huge manufacturing complex, to brighten the mood but exude seriousness and professionalism; much like in a hospital but with much higher ceilings! Here, research enables discovery, which flows through all of the clearly identified sections, rooms and labs, transforming into a remedy for a certain problem, improving performance of a certain part, augmenting life expectancy of Honda’s off-road vehicles.
As we are guided through the maze, countless people are saying Hi and sharing beautiful smiles. All are dressed in white, making the Honda logo contrast even better than on any of their wonderful vehicles they so passionately produce, with a name tag even easier to spot, The lengthy main hallway that efficiently connects everything is adorned with a fascinating number of commemorative plaques, photos and posters underlining more great accomplishments by teams of associates, from every department of this family conscious company. The amusement park being prepped in the parking lot for a fun family day was proof of this company’s devotion to quality family life.
At Honda, not only is the well-being of their associates’ families very important, but that of Honda clients’ families as well. A testament to this is the fact that they were the first motorcycle manufacturer to create unique sites specifically designed for motorcycle and ATV training. The centers teach over 11,000 riders a year, and classes are for riders of all ages.
The Red Rider Ranch in Colton, California, was the first such Rider Education Center built and is also Honda’s first Environmental Learning Center, a two-acre plot of land with trails that span five distinct ecosystems featuring over 2500 different species of plants. Riders can get a feel for grassland, chaparral, woodland, riparian and desert terrains–all inspired by trails natives to nearby San Bernardino National Forest and the Mojave Desert.
Honda opened their first U.S. plant in 1979, which has evolved into a company that directly employs nearly 25,000 Americans. Over 100,000 workers are employed at authorized Honda automobile, motorcycle and power-equipment dealerships in the United States and tens of thousands of additional Americans are employed by more than nearly 600 U.S. suppliers from whoom Honda purchases parts and materials. 20 years earlier in 1959, Honda opened its first storefront in Los Angeles with six industrious employees. Honda was the first major Japanese auto manufacturer to establish production operations in North-America and the numerous facilities here have become an engine of growth for the U.S. economy. They now have nine manufacturing facilities and 14 R&D facilities in America. Honda has invested $1.2 billion into its U.S. manufacturing plants over the last two years alone, bringing Honda’s total U.S. capital investment to more than $14 billion. Honda of South Carolina in particular, is one of Florence County’s largest employer in the Industrial/Manufacturing category. 600+ associates have the capacity to produce 266,000 ATV units per year and 310,000 engines in this 615 acres facility. Since their modest beginning in 1998, Honda of South Carolina has produced over 2 million ATVs.
The introduction of more sophisticated technologies in Honda products has forced them to examine many aspects of their manufacturing operations. Production facilities will soon be graced with new systems and processes to achieve higher quality and efficiency, but according to Honda, high tech equipment isn’t enough. Honda associates will be given the opportunity to gain the new skills they need for the manufacturing environment of the future. In addition to the regular training they have always conducted in their plants, they are now establishing two technical training centers in Ohio, to help prepare associates to meet the new challenges of production processes and technologies for the 21st century of manufacturing. A new training center for powertrains will be constructed at their engine plant in Anna, Ohio and another training center for auto production will be located near their Marysville auto plant. Interesting to know that the Marysville center will also house a new Heritage Center, highlighting the more than 30-year history of Honda Manufacturing in North America.
Honda also supports many organizations and activities that promote education and youth involvement, health and human services, arts and culture diversity, economic growth, and environmental preservation. Honda considers its responsibility to help make society a better place just as important as the goal of offering their customers the best quality products and services possible.
Another interesting U.S. based division of Honda is located on the west coast in in Santa Clarita, California. Established in 1993, Honda Performance Development, Inc., sole engine supplier to the IndyCar Series, is the technical operations center for Honda’s high-performance racing program. This state-of-the-art complex houses engineering development, comprehensive engine design work spaces, inspection and rebuilding areas, transit-style dynamometer test cells, machine shop, parts center, preparation and administrative support facilities.
Honda is showing signs of interest in staying strong in the ATV industry with the all-new and wonderfully versatile Pioneer line of Side x Side vehicles, latest great team accomplishment for HSC, and we are hoping its success will prompt them to build other cool Honda off-road models in a near future. Versatility is more than ever a factor taken into consideration when buying; many clients are now savvy at recognizing the full potential of an off-highway vehicle, both as a great recreational vehicle for the whole family and a tough and able partner at work. That is mainly why Honda engineers have been working so hard these past few years on making the Pioneer so versatile. One of the main objectives to be reached was to accommodate four occupants without resorting to simply oversizing the already quite bulky Big Red. It had to fit in a pick-up truck box and designed with a trail-friendly width. We very much like what we are seeing coming off of the HSC line, but we can’t wait to see what else will be assembled here with the same attention to detail and quality in HSC’s promising future.
Mr. Soichiro Honda and Mr. Takeo Fujisawa, who founded Honda Motor Co., Ltd. in 1948, believed in creating a work force where each member’s ideas received the full consideration and respect of the group and the HSC workforce’s successes are proof that this vision is effective in reaching their ultimate goal and what is actually the company’s principle: supplying products of the highest quality, yet at a reasonable price, for worldwide customer satisfaction.
Keep up the great work HSC associates!