Supplier hiring 200 in growing auto cluster

Supplier hiring 200 in growing auto cluster

April 16th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Aerial image shows new Volkswagen Passats in the parking of the VW plant at Enterprise South.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.


Business: Auto soundproofing and interior trim

Headquarters: Witten, Germany; North America, Troy, Mich.

Sites: 37 manufacturing locations and five technical centers; in the U.S., the McMinn County site will join facilities in Michigan, Georgia and Kansas

Staff: More than 5,000 employees in 18 countries

Sales: $280 million in North America in 2012


McMinn County employs over 2,500 people in the auto industry. Among the companies and their workforces:

• Denso, 1,100

• Manufacturers Industrial Group, 988

• Waupaca, 500

• E&E Manufacturing, 120

Source: McMinn County Economic Development Authority


Contact the Tennessee Career Center in Athens at 866-960-7985

A German automotive company plans to hire 200 people in Athens, Tenn., where it will supply Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant and add to a growing cluster of car-related jobs in McMinn County.

HP Pelzer Automotive Systems plans to locate in a 185,000-square-foot facility and serve as the first tenant in Mt. Verd Industrial Park off Interstate 75, officials said Monday.

The project's investment is set at about $28 million, Pelzer said in an announcement Monday. A Knoxville group, Partners Development, is buying 23 areas in the industrial park and leasing the new building and the land to HP Pelzer.

HP Pelzer, with its North American headquarters in Troy, Mich., supplies soundproofing and interior trim parts to auto manufacturers.

Pelzer's new plant is the second major supplier announcement in McMinn County so far this year. In January, parts supplier Denso unveiled plans to add 130 jobs and invest $50 million into its Athens facility, pushing employment there to over 1,000.

Steve Paladino, HP Pelzer's chief operating officer for North America, said plans are to ramp up to 200 workers over three to five years.

He said the company's new factory is to supply Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant, about 50 miles south of Athens. Already, the company supplies the VW plant from its Thomson, Ga., factory, Paladino said.

"It puts us in a real good geographical location to support a lot of good [original equipment manufacturers]," he said.

Kathy Knight, the McMinn County Economic Development Authority's executive vice president, said HP Pelzer wanted a central location to the auto market, and it has an aggressive ramp-up schedule that Athens was able to meet.

She said the site is pad ready, and the Athens area is offering tax breaks for the plant.

"They'll probably start hiring around midsummer," Knight said.

The Tennessee Career Center in Athens helping find workers. Paladino said the company would like to be in production in November.

Mitchell Moore, Athens city manager, said the 223-acre industrial park is new.

"We've been running infrastructure to it," he said about the city and county.

Tennessee Economic and Community Economic Development chief Bill Hagerty said the Volunteer State offers the automotive industry "unparalleled logistical advantages and a strong manufacturing base."