President Hopkins tours automotive supplier as part of community visit

Wright State President David R. Hopkins toured the Setex Inc. automotive parts plant in St. Marys. The plant makes car seats for Honda.

Wright State University President David R. Hopkins got an up-close look at a thriving automotive supplier as part of a visit to communities in the Wright State Lake Campus area.

The Oct. 23 stop was part of the 2012 Annual Report to the Community by Hopkins, Lake Campus Dean Bonnie Mathies and other Wright State officials.

In St. Marys, the delegation toured Setex Inc., which supplies Honda with car seats and seat frames.

The 25-year-old company has grown to nearly 500 workers, several of whom are enrolled in the engineering program at the Lake Campus.

“Setex has a pretty close affiliation with Wright State,” said Owen D. Whittington, plant manager. “It’s in our best interests to support the engineering program. We’re going to have that ongoing need for expertise in the engineering field.”

President Hopkins also spoke with members of the New Knoxville/New Bremen Rotary Club during the visit.

A tour of the facility revealed engineering marvels. Swiveling, Transformers-like robots welded seat frames and bended steel. High-tech ceramic heaters erased the tiniest wrinkles from seat fabrics. Amid the hissing of hydraulics, seats marched down the assembly line.

“You’re a good corporate model,” Hopkins told Whittington. “We’d love to tell your story a little more.”

Earlier, Hopkins spoke to about 45 people at the New Bremen/New Knoxville Rotary Club, where he discussed the growth of the Lake Campus.

The group later toured the newly renovated Auglaize County Courthouse in Wapakoneta and then met with members of the Western Ohio Educational Foundation and local business leaders.

“Dean Mathies and her team are doing some fantastic things in terms of serving you,” Hopkins told the group.

Hopkins said Wright State is providing more four-year degree programs at the Lake Campus than ever and is hoping to get more four-year business programs established.

He said the third annual Regional Summit will be held at the Lake Campus on Feb. 22 to help determine how Wright State can better serve the needs of the community.

“We want to be an institution that’s responsive to you,” Hopkins said. “When you tell us there’s a need, we’re not just going to turn our heads and stick them in the sand. If you tell us this community needs something­—a talented workforce or whatever service you need—we’re going to do our very best to supply that.”

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