Mori Seiki is the start of something big.
At least, that appeared to be the overriding sentiment Wednesday when the sparkling new Japanese tool manufacturing plant on Second Street in Davis officially opened its doors to the community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
But the idea of big doesn’t allude to the sheer size of the facility, a 200,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art high-tech factory that looks even larger and more impressive on the inside.
Mori Seiki is big because of what it means to Davis, to the region and to California in general, in terms of attracting the kind of jobs and industry that can jump-start the economy.
“It’s one of the largest industrial development projects in our region and the largest our city has seen in many decades,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, who presented a proclamation Wednesday to Masahiko Mori, president of Mori Seiki, to welcome him and his company to Davis. “It also demonstrates that manufacturing in California can work.
“Simply put, having Mori Seiki build its first U.S. manufacturing plant here demonstrates that this community, Davis, is open for business.”
More than 300 people, including Davis city leaders, business stakeholders and Mori Seiki employees, were on hand to witness the grand opening, which culminated in a champagne toast in the center of the plant, led by Mori himself.
“(Here’s) to a bright future,” Mori said.
Mori Seiki manufactures computer numeric control machine tools and systems, designing and building machines that actually build things themselves. Essentially, Mori Seiki doesn’t make the part, it makes the machine that makes the part.
The Japan-based machine tool manufacturer picked Davis over a location in the Chicago area as the site of its United States headquarters back in 2010, two years after Digital Technology Labs — a research and development company that assists with prototype creation and product testing for Mori Seiki — moved from West Sacramento to the next parcel over from Mori Seiki on Second Street.
That move brought more than 100 jobs to Davis at the time.
To sweeten the deal for Mori Seiki to come to Davis, the City Council shaved off half of the company’s property taxes and waived its connection fees.
For Sarah Worley, the city’s business and economic development coordinator, those types of decisions were no-brainers, especially considering the value a company like Mori Seiki brings to the community.
“This truly will be a catalyst for the area,” Worley said after the ceremony Wednesday. “This means so much for the city, so much for manufacturing and manufacturing jobs in California, and even in the United States.”
According to Mori Seiki human relations manager Michele Fadling, the company already employs about 120 to 125 people at the plant, which has been in operation since June.
The company expects to expand to more than 170 employees and is actively hiring.
But even before the plant fills all of its positions, Mori Seiki already has moved into the city of Davis’ top 10 employers in terms of number of jobs.
Mori Seiki will sell its products all over the state and throughout the United States. If the company sells more than 100 machines per month, it expects to gross at least $115 million per year.
As of 2010, the company employed 3,800 people around the world and was worth more than $1.7 billion.
The company hopes to host a broader outreach event next year to invite members of the community to tour its facilities. A date has not yet been set.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash