The Sissonville plants operate around the clock, with eight-hour shifts from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The spark plug plant, filled with workers and rather noisy machines, is busy assembling and packaging hundreds of spark plugs at any given time during the day.
"By 2016, we will be making 40 million spark plugs a year in this facility. By 2017, we will make 21 million oxygen sensors here," Pepper said.
"Today, our company makes 750 million spark plugs a year, which is 41 percent of the world market."
Pepper believes economic conditions in the United States will help the Sissonville plant continue to grow. The plant has grown continually since it opened back in 1996, with the exception of a brief downturn in the recent recession.
"There is economic uncertainty in Europe, but the NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] market continues to grow."
Pepper also said, "The average age of a vehicle on the road today is 11 years -- as long as it has ever been."
Recent modifications in union contracts signed by the Big Three auto companies -- Ford, Chrysler and General Motors -- helped the industry, Pepper argued. "They have much lower labor costs for new workers."
"We do background checks and drug screens on everyone we hire," Pepper told the teachers. "That has a major impact on hiring. We lose a lot of people up front.
"Today, our average worker today is in his 30s. We also have a lot of people, who worked here since we opened, that have 17 or 18 years of seniority."Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.