It sounds like the name of an advertising agency, but KMMG actually stands for Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, the first U.S. plant for the Korean-owned automaker, which was founded as a steel tubing and bicycle parts maker in the waning days of World War Two.
The 15-year-old U.S. sales company, Kia Motors of America, has achieved a record market share thus far in 2009, rising nearly 50% to 3.1% through July. Now it’s about to open its first U.S. assembly plant late this fall in what is more than a $1 billion gamble that it can keep the sales momentum going in the worst U.S. auto market since the Great Depression.
“It will be a historic milestone when the first Sorento (sic) rolls off the assembly line at our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia later this year,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing, Kia Motors America.
“Our first domestically-built vehicle, the all-new Sorento will be built by team members who have undergone rigorous training and who have great pride in their newly learned skills,” Sprague added.
The plant, located on 2,200 acres, follows Southern tradition in that it is not unionized. At full production levels, more than 300,000 vehicles will be assembled by about 2,500 workers.
In addition, automotive suppliers who have located in the region as a result of Kia’s presence will provide more than 6,000 jobs it’s estimated. Right now, 43 workers from KMMG are training at Kia’s Research and Development Center in Namyang, Korea.
These workers are part of three waves that will be heading to Korea for training during the next few weeks. Overall, about 120 KMMG workers will be in these waves, bringing the total number of workers to more than 350 who have experienced (endured a long airline flight and a 180 degree time shift?) overseas training 14,000 miles away in a country that still relies on the U.S. taxpayer supported military to protect it from a hostile communist government in North Korea.