Toshiba, one of Japan’s biggest industrial companies, will nearly double the size of its Orange County operations by adding nearly 1,000 employees in two subsidiaries over the next 3 years, company officials said Wednesday.
The expansion begins next week when Toshiba America Information Systems launches production of office copiers in Irvine, said Kiichi Hataya, president. The move is part of the rapid growth of Toshiba’s operations in the United States.
“Manufacturing copiers here in Irvine is the latest in a long series of steps . . . to locate manufacturing closer to its markets,” Hataya said. “We are experiencing an increased market for our office automation products” in the United States.
Work Force of 2,200
The additional jobs, which will range from assembly workers to advanced engineers, would boost Toshiba’s work force in Orange County to about 2,200 by 1991. Ricoh Electronics, which employs 1,450 people in Tustin, currently ranks as the county’s largest Japanese employer.
Most of the growth will occur within Toshiba America Information Systems, which plans to increase its Orange County work force by about 840 people. A second subsidiary, Toshiba America Medical Systems in Tustin, plans to add 100 to 150 workers by 1991.
Japanese companies increasingly are moving production to the United States to take advantage of a weaker U.S. dollar, which gives products made here a price advantage over similar goods manufactured in Japan. Domestic manufacturing also helps the Japanese circumvent trade barriers and produce their goods closer to markets in which they are sold.
In addition to producing office copiers in Irvine, Hataya said Toshiba may move manufacturing of computer printers and facsimile machines from Japan to Orange County.
The Irvine plant plans to produce 1,000 office copiers per month initially, doubling production in 6 months. Within 2 years, production is expected to reach 8,000 units per month.
The copier operation will create 150 jobs. Others will be part of an expansion of the company’s current production and addition of unannounced new product lines, Hataya said.
The information systems unit currently makes laptop computers, cellular telephones, business telephone products and other electronic gear in Irvine. It expects to post sales of about $800 million for the fiscal year ending Friday and forecasts sales of $1 billion next year and $2 billion by 1991.
The separate medical systems unit in Tustin posted sales of $97 million in 1988 and expects to hit $150 million this year.
Toshiba opened a 350,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Irvine in early 1987. The company recently expanded the plant by 150,000 square feet to make room for copier production and other anticipated growth. It has also leased 50,000 square feet of nearby office space.
Toshiba has five U.S. subsidiaries. Three are headquartered in Orange County: information systems, medical systems and Toshiba America Electronic Components in Irvine. The other two are based in San Francisco and Wayne, N.J.
All five are being restructured as independent subsidiaries of Toshiba America instead of operating divisions, giving them more autonomy than in the past.
The five subsidiaries “will have their own corporate research and development, production and marketing facilities, and will be able to respond more quickly and efficiently to market needs,” Hataya said.
Toshiba began operations in Orange County in 1981, when it moved its industrial electronics group from Wayne, N.J., to Tustin. In mid-1987, Toshiba moved production of portable laptop computers to Irvine, its first local manufacturing operation. The company later began producing business telephone systems and cellular phones in Irvine.