Two European-based companies that announced early last year they had chosen Dublin for their American plants are on schedule. They should be ramping up production by early 2014.
The building for German-based Erdrich Umformtechnik GmbH & Co. is under construction, and Denmark-based Dinex Group has moved into its facility and started production.
Erdrich Umformtechnik primarily will manufacture brake pistons and metal stampings at a $39 million facility under construction in the I-16 Industrial Park at the corner of Interstate 16 and Ga. 257.
During the first phase, the company is expected to create 178 jobs within 36 months at the 133,000-square-foot building.
They are well under way on construction, said Cal Wray, president and CEO of the Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority. The office is near completion, and the manufacturing area is about 80 percent. The overall building should be completed in mid-May.
Evans General Contractors from Savannah is building the facility, and a lot of the subcontractors are Georgia based, he said.
Between 50 and 75 construction workers on average are working daily at the site, which Wray said helps the local economy.
Erdrichs owners are expected to visit the site in June for a final inspection, and workers would begin installing manufacturing equipment in July, Wray said.
Chief Operating Officer Walter Huber said the company plans to produce samples for customers by the end of the year.
Official production will start in January 2014, Huber said in an e-mail. According (to) plans, we will send people to Germany for a three-month training starting mid-May.
So far, the company has hired three management-level positions, and that number should be about 25 by June, Wray said.
Job-seekers can apply and get more information at the Department of Labor office in Dublin.
The company will be working with Quick Start, the states work force training program, to train the companys workers.
It is a highly technical company, Wray said.
Jobs would range from accounting and sales to engineering and welding. The starting salary range likely would be $12 to $14 an hour up to $18 or $20 an hour, he said.
The company will supply parts for just about every major European passenger vehicle manufacturer, including Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen and Fiat, he said. This facility will serve suppliers in North America, Mexico, and Central and South America.
Even though construction of the facility had been under way for awhile, it took a long time before any above-ground work was visible, which made some question whether the project was still viable, Wray said.
It was slow coming out of the ground because they have a full underground network of maintenance tunnels, he said. So for month after month, people kept thinking they were behind.
All the large presses have to be installed on individual foundations, and tunnels were created around them so workers can maintain the equipment from the bottom.
The tunnels are high enough for workers to stand upright, and I would say you couldnt have more than two people shoulder to shoulder, he said.
The same design is used by the companys plants in Germany and in the Czech Republic, and those facilities are so clean you could eat off the floor, and the tunnels are the same way, Wray said.
Huber said there were many reasons Dublin was chosen for Erdrich Umformtechniks new production facility.
Besides important reasons for the business, like availability of work force, distance to customer, availability of external service, place with good technical infrastructure, we experienced very good support from Dublin/Laurens officials during the site selection phase, he said.
Out of this, we built up a good relationship and trust with the (Dublin-Laurens County) Chamber of Commerce and the authority as well. Up to now, I like to say, we were not disappointed, and Erdrich will do the utmost to fulfill our part of the project.
Danish company already producing
In March 2012 -- three months after the Erdrich announcement -- Denmark-based Dinex Group gave the Dublin community another boost.
The automotive emissions control and exhaust manufacturer expects to create 250 jobs and invest $15 million in its first U.S. operation. The company moved into the 160,000-square-foot former Eldorado Stone plant built as a spec building by the Dublin-Laurens County Industrial Development Authority, which still owns it.
The company mostly will serve the heavy vehicle industry, including companies such as Caterpillar and John Deere, Wray said.
The first phase of the project is expected to create 180 jobs with a total of 250 jobs within 46 months, he said. The company started limited production in the fall and so far has about 25 employees.
This year we anticipate they will add 75 jobs and about 80 next year, he said.
Quick Start already is training some of the companys workers.
Dinexs starting salary ranges from about $12 to $14 an hour.
It is not as high tech, but (its) more skilled work, Wray said. They will physically be manipulating the product by hand by welding, by bending. They do have some robotics, and they do have some automation, but the majority of this is skilled welders forming a product.
The majority of the companys product will be used in the United States, but some of the final product may be sent to Canada and Mexico, he said.
Both (Erdrich and Dinex) will be using the Port of Savannah to bring in raw materials, if they cant buy them locally, he said.
We are very pleased with their progress, he said. We are very pleased to have them here.
Emory Lake, chairman of the Laurens County Commission, said he is happy with the high caliber of the two companies.
Its a different path than we have gone in -- its modern, technical plants, Lake said. We are real excited about that because its sort of the wave of the future. We are excited about what that will bring into the community and the (number) of people.
The days of attracting industries with 500 or more workers likely is over, and smaller companies like Erdrich and Dinex are more common, he said.
We are very excited about these industries coming, Lake said. They are good, solid industries, and we are hoping they will be here a good while.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.