Canon to Shift Typewriter Work to Costa Mesa

Times Staff Writer

Canon, the Japanese electronics giant, announced plans Wednesday to transfer production of some electronic typewriters from Japan to Costa Mesa and add 600 workers to its local payroll by 1989.

The $24.8-million investment reflects an effort by Canon to move manufacturing closer to its biggest market for electronic typewriters--the United States--and respond to continuing trade tensions and the strong Japanese yen, Canon officials said.

Canon’s announcement is the latest in a series of expansions by Japanese manufacturers in Orange County. Ricoh Corp. and Toshiba Corp. have recently undertaken expansions at existing facilities.


The Canon expansion will include adding a fourth building at the company’s Costa Mesa plant, which opened in 1974. Canon’s current work force of 200 makes typewriter ribbon cassettes and office copier products such as toners and drums.

Canon will transfer manufacturing of its AP series of office typewriters, which sell for between $500 and $1,500. The company will continue to produce its lower-priced portable typewriters in Japan, said Hajime Hirai, a spokesman for Canon U.S.A., an arm of the Tokyo-based parent.

Research and development operations for the typewriter line will also be transferred to Orange County.

“We have been planning to internationalize our production for some time,” Hirai said. “The yen-dollar situation makes it easier to move our operation here. Importing the products from Japan is getting tougher because of the cost factor.”

Japanese companies have stepped up efforts to move production to the United States as a result of the strengthening of the yen relative to the dollar in recent years. The change has made Japanese goods more expensive for American consumers.

In the office typewriter market, Canon faces stiff competition from such U.S. manufacturers as IBM and Xerox.

Last June, Canon opened a $26-million factory in Newport News, Va., to produce laser printers and copiers. The Japanese manufacturer has said it plans to invest more than $100 million in the 175-acre Virginia site by 1992.

As part of a $100-million U.S. expansion, Ricoh announced plans last August to enlarge its operations in Santa Ana and Irvine and add 600 workers at those locations. The company manufactures office copier products in Santa Ana and copier sorters and facsimile machines in Irvine.

Toshiba has invested more than $30 million since 1987 in its Irvine plant, where the company makes laptop computers, printers, telecommunication products and other electronic equipment.