The announcement that Kawai America will leave Lincoln County in early 2005 is disappointing to the many friends and supporters this good corporate citizen has had here since it opened in 1988. Over the years, Kawai was a respected player in our industrial community and is known globally as one of the largest piano manufacturing companies in the world. Pianos will continue to be built at the plant during the next nine months as production is gradually transferred to Kawaiâ€™s new Indonesia facility. Company officials said a changing marketplace has forced industry officials to reevaluate cost structures to remain competitive in a global competition. Kawai employs some 3,000 people worldwide, but its workforce here had been in decline and was down to about 30 when last weekâ€™s announcement was made. The Lincolnton plan averaged about 20 pianos a day. Its peak production was 43 pianos per day.
The announcement underscores the emerging global market, as Lincoln Economic Development Association Director Barry Matherly observed.
â€œWhat this brings home to Lincoln County is that we truly are in a global economy,â€ he said. â€œAnd the competition is just not locally or between North and South Carolina, but that the competition can come from anywhere in the world.â€
In fact, Kawi came here from Japan and is part of an international group of businesses based in Lincoln County. Among them are: Cataler North America, also based in Japan: Robert Bosch Tool Corporation and Hof Textiles of Germany; and Julius Blum of Austria.We have many businesses in Lincoln County that are also feeling the pressure of global competition and we can only hope that they are able to find the competitive edge needed to stay here in Lincoln and provide needed jobs.by Albert Dozier