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HEARD ON THE BEAT / CORPORATE

NGK Spark Plugs Expands Headquarters

June 18, 1998|JOHN O'DELL

NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.) Inc. is celebrating the opening of its newly consolidated and expanded U.S. headquarters in Irvine this week.

The company, based in Irvine since 1983, has moved its administrative office from one part of town to its manufacturing and warehouse facility in another. As part of the operation, NGK added almost 20,000 square feet to the building at 6 Whatney.

The company, which has 177 employees in Irvine and 100 more in sales and distribution facilities around the rest of the country, does about $600 million a year in sales. Despite its name, it sells more high-tech ceramics and automotive sensors than spark plugs, says marketing manager George Kershaw.

NGK remains the world's largest provider of original equipment spark plugs, Kershaw said, but that business will only account for about $100 million of sales in the U.S. this year. Ceramics--used in the manufacture of computer chips and other electronic equipment--will account for about $260 million in revenue, while sensors, principally oxygen sensors used in automotive emissions systems, will bring in about $220 million, said Kershaw.

The company won't project sales beyond 1998, but Kershaw said that one reason for the consolidation is to accommodate anticipated growth in all three business segments.

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John O'Dell covers major Orange County corporations and manufacturing for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5831 and at john.odell@latimes.com.

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