Meiwa holds grand opening Thursday
By Jessica Moore
Meiwa Industry North America celebrated their Grand Opening Ceremony Thursday, April 10, in an all-day event that began at the Meiwa facility in the I-65 Commerce Park in Lewisburg. The welcoming speech was given by Toshihiko Shimizu, president and CEO of Meiwa Industry Company Ltd.
As a child, he recalled the song "Tennessee Waltz" being popular in Japan. He knew then he wanted to do something in the United States, as well as being involved in the automobile industry.
"I am pleased that both of my dreams have come true," Shimizu said.
Next to speak was Consul General Motohiko Kato, who said, "Let's celebrate the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new life for the Industry of Meiwa."
Will Alexander, Chief of Staff of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, read aloud a letter of thanks from Gov. Bill Haslam who could not make it to the ceremony. Alexander also informed those present that Meiwa Industry North America has joined a group of 180 other Japanese companies calling Tennessee their home.
"Japan has had more of an impact on Tennessee today than any other country," said Alexander. The welcoming remarks were closed with Commissioner Burns Phillips of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development saying, "Tennessee is extremely pleased to have Meiwa here in Marshall County."
Music and entertainment was provided to the guests by the Marshall County High School band and cheerleaders. The entertainment came to a close when the band performed the national anthems of the United States and Japan.
The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was unique. Every official involved had his own pair of scissors. With all cutting at the same time, they each ended up with their own piece of the ribbon. This was followed by a Japanese tradition, the Sake Barrel Ceremony. Every official on stage put on a blue Meiwa robe and was given a wooden hammer. While the crowd chanted in Japanese, they each hit the two barrels a total of three times, breaking the lids of the barrels. And with that, the Meiwa Industry North America was ceremonially considered open for business.
Guests then traveled to the Lewisburg Recreation Center for a luncheon with speeches by County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett, as well as Lewisburg Mayor Jim Bingham. Lunch was followed by another Japanese tradition, the Painting the Daruma Doll Eye Ceremony given by Shimizu and Masami Mikawa, president of Meiwa Industry North America.
As the day came to a close there was a gift exchange between the City of Lewisburg and Meiwa Industry Company as well as a donation presentation to Marshall County High School.