ANNA, OH - Government and community leaders joined with Honda associates at Honda of America Mfg.’s engine plant this week to celebrate 25 years of manufacturing at Honda’s largest auto engine plant in the world. In addition to producing the engines that power many Honda and Acura automobiles, the Anna Engine Plant is a driving force in the development of Honda’s North American operations, and it has provided the foundations for the creation of numerous parts plants in Ohio.

Since starting with just 94 associates on July 22, 1985, the Anna Engine Plant has grown to become Honda’s largest automobile engine factory, with an annual capacity of 1.18 million four- and six-cylinder engines – enough to stretch from Cincinnati to Cleveland and back again. The Anna plant supplies engines to five Honda assembly plants in Ohio, Indiana and Ontario, Canada.

“This anniversary is a great opportunity for us to pause and celebrate the many accomplishments of this great team,” says Hidenobu Iwata, president and CEO Honda of America Mfg. Inc. “By working together, we have blazed a path in the industry for quality, fuel economy and environmental technologies.”

The 1.8 million-square-foot Anna Engine Plant is not only Honda’s largest auto engine plant, it is also one of the industry’s most vertically integrated engine plants. In addition to assembling engines, the plant manufactures nearly all of the steel and aluminum parts for those engines, and procures engine and drivetrain components from more than 125 suppliers located mostly in Ohio and neighboring states. The plant’s domestic purchases of parts and raw materials last year exceeded $5.2 billion – representing more than one-third of Honda’s total $13.3 billion in North American parts purchases in 2009.

“From the beginning, the power behind the Anna Engine Plant has been its associates, who make the flexibility of this plant work for our customers, and the strong partnerships with surrounding communities,” says Plant Manager John Spoltman during the anniversary event. “Without the friendship and support of our friends and neighbors, we never could have realized this moment or the tremendous success that this plant and this community have built together over the past quarter century.”

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland joined Honda to commemorate the plant’s milestone. “I congratulate Honda’s leadership and all of the dedicated employees who have worked here to power vehicles for the last quarter-century. Your commitment to quality and innovation has made a truly significant impact on Ohio’s economy and our community,” Strickland says. “Celebrations like this are perfect examples of why I believe in Ohio, because there is no better place to put your plant than Ohio and no better workforce to make your product than Ohioans.”

With employment of 2,400 associates, the plant has produced more than 17 million engines. Cumulative capital investment in the plant exceeds $1.7 billion, including a $140 million series of expansion projects, completed in 2008, for the production of steel engine components previously sourced overseas.

While increasing work under its own roof, the Anna Engine Plant has played a pivotal role in the creation of new parts and component manufacturing operations in Ohio and neighboring states. After starting at the engine plant, the production of automatic transmissions was transferred in 1996 to Honda Transmission Mfg. Inc., in Russells Point, OH, which was followed in 2006 by the creation of a second transmission plant in Tallapoosa, GA. Anna also served as the “mother plant” for the start of Honda’s other two automobile engine plants in North America – in Lincoln, Alabama, and Alliston, Ontario, Canada.

Throughout its history, the Anna plant also has spun off production of engine and drivetrain parts to suppliers in the region, including production of suspension assemblies, brake components, pistons, exhaust manifolds, transmission shafts, catalytic converters, and rocker arm assemblies. As a result, new supplier operations were established in Ohio communities including Celina, Bucyrus, Cardington, Marion and Fredericktown, and in Coldwater, MI.

While its operations have expanded steadily over the years and set new standards in manufacturing, Spoltman said the Anna plant also has focused on being a good corporate citizen and being an accepted member of the community.

“Caring for the environment is one example, and all of us at Honda are very focused on reducing our environmental footprint throughout the world – including right here in Anna,” he says. “Many of you may not know this, but the Anna Engine Plant sends no waste to any landfills from its manufacturing operations.” In addition to recycling sand from casting operations and other production-related materials, the Anna plant helps Honda’s auto plants in Marysville and East Liberty recycle their scrap materials as well. The two auto plants bale scrap steel from stamping operations, which are reused in Anna-made engine and drivetrain components.

Statewide, Honda employs 13,500 associates at four manufacturing plants, a major vehicle R&D and product engineering center, a regional parts distribution center, and other operations supporting Honda’s auto manufacturing in North America.

Honda began business in America in 1959 and today employs more than 26,000 associates. The company operates 14 manufacturing facilities in North America, producing a wide range of Honda and Acura automobiles, engines and automatic transmissions, as well as Honda all-terrain vehicles, and power equipment products such as lawn mowers, mini-tillers and general-purpose engines.