Putnam County has more Japanese companies than any other county in the state with eight of West Virginia's 23 companies, Walton said.
After the earthquake, another Japanese company located in Putnam, Diamond Electric, which makes ignition coils, was forced to scramble to send parts to Japan, said David Pakulski, director of purchasing.
"For a brief interim, a lot of Japanese transplants dialed down production," he said.
"But now business is back," said Dave Bagnall, director of community affairs for Diamond. "We went from a slight downturn to the point now where we're working seven days a week, 24 hours a day at our Eleanor plant. We have 375 employees now."
Bagnall said he doesn't expect Diamond's Putnam location to expand in the near future, but notes that shouldn't be a sign of the company's success.
"We've got plants in Japan, China, India and Hungary, in addition to ones in the U.S. that we can lean on if we need more room," he said.
Like Nippon Thermostat, when Diamond arrived in Putnam, it wasn't doing business with Toyota, Bagnall said.
"When we first built the company in 1996, it was built to serve our customers just outside of Chicago at the Chrysler plant.
"Since then, though, we've had the opportunity to secure business with Toyota, and I think having our plant close to the Buffalo engine plant certainly helped," he said.
"It was only natural, Toyota and Diamond are both Japanese-owned companies, and so they formed a close relationship."
Green Metals, Toyota Tsusho, Meiji Corp. and Okaya, all Japanese companies in Putnam, all service Toyota.
"Toyota has worldwide recognition," Walton said. "Companies don't necessarily want to locate right next door, because any company right next door is competing in terms of wages, and Toyota pays a darn good wage.
"But that doesn't mean a company can't locate three, four or five miles away, and that's what these companies have done, and been successful doing," Walton said.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.