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ABOUT ATCO

* Headquarters: Sterling Heights, Mich.

* Formed: 1980

* Services: Inspection and containment, supplier development, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing and technical services.

* Work: Approved source for General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Ford and a number of tier one suppliers

Source: Atco

A Michigan company working with Volkswagen plans to have up to 150 employees in Chattanooga by late 2011, an official said Wednesday.

Atco Industries Inc. already is doing pre-production parts inspection work inside VW's plant and has about 20 to 25 people in the city, said Dan Kendzior, Atco's business development director.

The company has leased 56,000 square feet of space on Bonny Oaks Drive near the plant, Kendzior said. Atco officials hope to continue to team with Volkswagen as well as perform work with the automaker's supplier base, he said.

Kendzior said Atco plans to have 50 people hired by the end of the first quarter of 2011 and 150 by late next year.

He declined to talk about wages, but said the company is looking to hire local people.

"Our model is to use full-time people and not go the temp route," Kendzior said.

Atco, based in Sterling Heights, Mich., is the second company this month to announce plans to open operations in Chattanooga related to VW, which is to start building a new midsize sedan early next year.

German parts company Draexlmaier is setting up shop in VW's supplier park to sequence wire harnesses. It will start out with 25 workers but plans to double that number in four or five years.

The supplier park now has companies planning to hire 525 people.

Jeff Jennings, of NAI Charter Real Estate Corp., worked with Atco to locate the Bonny Oaks Drive space and said VW is a catalyst for jobs.

VW is "a major factor in Atco landing where it did," Jennings said.

Bryan Rudisill, also of Charter, represented Dunlap & Kyle Tire Co., which owns the site being leased by Atco. He said the location close to the VW plant was key.

"The building is set up to do what Atco wants to do," he said.

Atco plans to expand its business by handling logistics, warehousing and other work for VW suppliers, Kendzior said.

J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing, said the business group recruited Atco and there's more investment by suppliers to come.

"At some point, existing suppliers are going to expand and make additional investments," he said.

VW's $1 billion assembly plant at Enterprise South industrial park is expected to produce about 150,000 vehicles a year. VW plans to hire 2,000 to 2,500 workers, executives said.

Contact staff writer Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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