SMI Crankshaft LLC is cranking up business through mergers, name changes and tree planting.

SMI Crankshaft LLC is cranking up business through mergers, name changes and tree planting.

SMI Crankshaft is announcing its official name change to NSI Crankshaft on September 1 as a result of a company merger which occurred in 2012.

According to NSI Sales Manager Jeff Yount, in October of 2008, SMI Crankshaft LLC was formed through the acquisition of 100 percent of Norton Manufacturing's assets by Sumitomo Metals and Sumitomo Corporation. As a result of this acquisition, Sumitomo Metals owned 60 percent of the company while Sumitomo Corporation owned 40 percent of the company.

All of Norton Manufacturing's faculty and machinery was consolidated into the Sumitomo Metals and Corporation facility, located at 1815 E. Sandusky St., Fostoria. The company added 150,000 square feet to the 54,000 square-foot building to accommodate for these changes.

Four years later, Sumitomo Metals then merged with Nippon Steel to become Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMC), forming the second-largest steel producer in the world, said Yount.

NSSMC was considered the legal name of the company while the trademark name remained SMI Crankshaft. Changing the trademark name of the company took more effort and thinking than changing the legal name.

"Customers know us as SMI, so customer recognition was something we had to consider," Yount said. "We wanted the new name to be something that made sense and a name our customers would understand."

After months of investigating possible names for the company, it settled with NSI Crankshaft, or Nippon Sumitomo Integrated.

"We want to honor the new ownership with the name of our parenting companies," Yount said. "The new name represents Nippon and Sumitomo integrated together."

Yount assured that customers won't see any changes in productivity, staff employment, or business; the name change is solely legal.

NSI Crankshaft is a crankshaft manufacturer that offers complete vertical integration of its crankshaft manufacturing. It provides steel making, forging and machining through one company.

According to Yount, Sumitomo Corporation had the product and raw forging through Sumitomo Metals and had a trading business through Sumitomo Corporation. In purchasing Norton's, they acquired the ability to machine as well. This vertical integration allowed the company to better compete against rival companies.

"We call ourselves a unicorn in their organization," Yount said. "We're the only machining outlet for crankshafts. Our ability to machine crankshafts sets us apart from most other Nippon Steel and Sumitomo businesses."

Board members and other employees attended a tree planting ceremony where a Kwanzan Cherry tree was planted on the grounds. According to the National Park Service website, the cherry tree is a prestigious flowering plant originating in Japan. It symbolizes the transformations in Japanese culture.

NSI Crankshaft purchased the Kwanzan Cherry from Feasel's Garden Center, 2330 Bright Rd., Findlay. Greg Feasel and Tim Brugeman of Feasel's Garden Center brought the tree, provided shovels for the celebration and set the tree up for the ceremony.

Feasel's Garden Center has provided cherry trees to about a dozen Japanese-owned companies in Findlay and a few others in the area for occasions such as this.

The Kwanzan Cherry will blossom in early spring and will shortly be covered in large pink flowers. Cherry trees only stay in bloom for a couple of weeks.

Mr. Shinji Morinobu, Managing Director and member of the Board of NSSMC, and Mr. Makoto Horie, General Manager of Metal Products for Automotive and Railway Industry Division of Sumitomo Corporation, were present to do the honors of shoveling dirt to plant the tree.

Yount said NSI Crankshaft planted the tree to signify the name change and the long lasting relationship of Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metals through the merger. A plaque was also made in the factory to be placed next to the tree, dedicating the tree to this merger.

"Every time our parenting companies or guests visit they'll be reminded of the name change and merger because of the tree out front," Yount said.