Japanese auto supplier moving Michigan HQ to W.Va.

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A Japanese auto supplier is moving its North American headquarters from Monroe County to West Virginia.

Diamond Electric, an auto supplier that makes ignition coils, will move its headquaters from Dundee to Eleanor, W.Va., according to West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Ignition coils release electric energy that fire spark plugs.

The move will consolidate the automotive ignition coil manufacturer’s main U.S. office with its existing assembly plant in West Virginia.

“Since Diamond Electric opened its first manufacturing plant in West Virginia in 1997, the company has chosen to expand its operations in the Mountain State multiple times,” Tomblin said. “We’re honored Diamond Electric has selected West Virginia as the new home for its headquarters facility.”

Diamond’s facility in Eleanor is its largest production facility. In addition to the U.S. and Japan, Diamond has operations in five other countries across the globe.

“This change will streamline Diamond Electric’s U.S. operations by improving accessibility between departments and it will strengthen our internal and external communications,” said Hironori Kurita, chairman of the board for the Japanese-owned U.S. company. “We will continue to maintain a sales office in southeast Michigan to provide quality service to our valued customers.”

Diamond Electric now employs approximately 335 workers in West Virginia. The employees in Michigan are being offered an opportunity to relocate with the company to West Virginia, which is expected to add 10 to 15 positions to the Eleanor site, Tomblin’s office said.

Since 2012, six Japanese companies — including Hino Motors, Nippon Thermostat, NGK Spark Plugs, Wheeling-Nisshin, Toyota and Diamond Electric — have invested $136 million in West Virginia, creating more than 175 jobs, Tombin said. West Virginia maintains a business development office in Japan. Currently, West Virginia is home to more than 20 Japanese companies.

Diamond Electric supplies ignition coils to Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Subaru.

In January, the Justice Department said the former president and vice president of Diamond Electric agreed to plead guilty in a price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy that boosted prices for ignition coils in Ford, Toyota and Subaru vehicles.

Former executives at Osaka, Japan-based Diamond Electric Mfg. Co. Ltd. admitted they conspired to fix prices of ignition coils installed in cars sold in the United States and around the world.

Former company President Shigehiko Ikenaga and Vice President Tatsuo Ikenaga were charged in U.S. District Court in Detroit with fixing prices from at least July 2003 until at least February 2010 for parts that went into vehicles from Ford, Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the parent of Subaru.

Shigehiko Ikenaga agreed to serve 16 months in a U.S. prison. Tatsuo Ikenaga, Diamond Electric’s managing director and then-vice president, agreed to serve 13 months in a U.S. prison. He also was president of Diamond Electric’s U.S. subsidiary.

In September, Diamond Electric pleaded guilty for its involvement in the conspiracy and was fined $19 million.