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Dana Corp. officially unveiled its $30 million Maumee technical center yesterday, giving Gov. Bob Taft and others a look at equipment used to make and test prototypes of light axles and driveshafts in the 190,000-square-foot facility.
The Toledo parts supplier is about 95 percent finished with the task of consolidating technology-related operations from Springfield Township, Fort Wayne, Ind., and elsewhere into the center.
Dana began moving into the facility in November. It employs nearly 500 people, who are paid an average of $62,500 a year.
BMW AG and other automaker customers have commended Dana on the center, where about 285 engineers and others will work on advancements such as reducing the weight of driveshafts and axles, as well as minimizing the noise, vibration, and harshness of products, said Mike Burns, Dana's chief executive and president.
"This is where it all starts," he said.
The use of magnetic pulse welding to fuse different types of metals - which makes products lighter and improves on fuel economy - is one innovation Dana demonstrated to the governor and about 100 government officials and community leaders. Dana can't survive in the competitive auto industry if it continues to offer the same products it did five years ago, said Mike Laisure, president of Dana's Automotive Systems Group, which makes products for automakers.
"You can't allow your products to become commodities," he said.
About 300 of the 500 jobs at the technical center are new to Ohio, either in the form of transfers from other Dana facilities or additional positions filled by new hires.
Ohio is striving to improve conditions for businesses with incentives and other efforts, Gov. Taft said. Dana's technical center received an incentive package from state and local entities worth at least $28 million,
"This is a great day for Dana. This is a great day for the state of Ohio," he said. "We're so proud that Dana is a big part of the Ohio story."
Terry Jones, director of global engineering centers, said four remaining pieces of equipment will be moved to the center in the next few weeks.
Contact Julie M. McKinnon