Atlanta — Randy Jackson, the director of human resources and administration for Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG), gave an update on the West Point Kia project during his speech at the monthly “Terry Third Thursday” breakfast series hosted by the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business in Atlanta.
Jackson, a native of Macon, Ga. and a graduate of the University of Georgia, said that he is often asked why he would want to leave companies that he had worked at previously like Mercedes Benz and Toyota for Kia.”My question is who wouldn’t want to join Kia,” Jackson asked. “We’re the fastest growing automotive company in the world.” He described the “Kia Way” as a philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement and teamwork and emphasized that as long as KMMG remains committed to that philosophy, this project will be a major success.
“We’re bringing two cultures together to create the best of the best,” he said. “The best can only be built through relationships based on trust and open two-way communication. People will always be the heart and soul of this company.”
Jackson noted that the state of Georgia had been a wonderful partner during this project. He singled out Georgia Quick Start, the state’s workforce training program, for its ongoing contributions. Quick Start currently operates the Kia Georgia Training Center in West Point.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of states and a lot of workforce development programs and Quick Start is far ahead of them all,” he said. “Jackie Rohosky and Ron Jackson deserve a lot of credit. Walking inside our training center gives you a tremendous positive first impression. It is the benchmark of training centers.” Jackson also credited Quick Start with the automotive benchmark-setting online application process that took place during the early part of 2008. In only 30 days, 43,013 applications were received for the 2,500 available production and maintenance positions at Kia.
So far there have been 4,034 interviews, 1,508 pre-hire assessments, 58,255 hours spent on pre-hire training and 82,310 hours spent on post-hire training. KMMG is still in the process of contacting applicants to enter the process. Jackson encouraged the Georgia residents to test drive the Kia line of products should they be in the market for a new vehicle. He says that if they try out the Kia line, they will like it. In relation to the plant’s timeline for going into production, Jackson says that everything is still on track for early-December of this year. Trials at the plant are scheduled to begin in the March/April timeframe this year. “There is a lot of excitement in this area and the state, ” he said.”I am very proud that Kia chose to locate in my home state.”
When asked about the total number of jobs connected to the Kia project, Jackson said that Kia had announced 2,500 direct jobs and that another 7,500 jobs had been announced by Kia suppliers. With the economic impact factor being about three times that, the area could be looking at around 30,000 new jobs created because of Kia. “Landing an OEM in your state will change lives,” Jackson said. “We all hope that we can look back at this project and say that we made a difference.”
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) is the first manufacturing site in North America for Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, Korea. KMMG is located on 2,200 acres in West Point, Georgia, and is scheduled to begin production in the last quarter of 2009. At full capacity, the plant will have the ability to produce 300,000 vehicles annually and employ approximately 2,500 team members.