SAN DIEGO — Scripto Tokai, the U.S. subsidiary of Japan-based Tokai Corp., the largest disposable butane lighter manufacturer in the world, has agreed to purchase land in Tijuana to build a manufacturing plant that could approach 200,000 square feet in size and employ several hundred workers.
Scripto Tokai would be the latest of several Japanese companies to move or expand in Tijuana in recent years to take advantage of low labor costs. Products made at maquiladoras , as Tijuana plants are known, are typically shipped back across the border for sale in U.S. markets. The Scripto Tokai plant would be built on 5.5 acres next to a future Canon computer printer plant in southwest Tijuana.
Big Share of Lighter Market
Based in Rancho Cucamonga, Scripto Tokai makes pens and pencils in addition to disposable butane lighters. The company currently employs more than 500 at plants in Rancho Cucamonga and Monrovia, a company spokesman said Friday. If Scripto Tokai completes the sale, layoffs of existing employees would be unlikely because the company is looking to expand production capacity, he said.
A closely held company, Scripto Tokai did not disclose its sales or those of its parent company, which is based in Yokohama. Other company sources said only that Scripto Tokai annual sales exceed $100 million. The company also declined to disclose the precise amount of plant space that it has in Southern California.