CULLMAN – REHAU hosted a grand opening for its new Automotive Technical Center on Wednesday, September 2. The $3 million addition consists of a 12,000-square-foot building located next to the company's manufacturing facility. The Cullman-based technical center is the first of its kind in North America.
Attending the ceremony were Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield, Cullman City Mayor Max Townson, Cullman County Commission Chairman Kenneth Walker, as well as locals from the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, Wallace State Community College, Cullman Economic Development Agency, and the Cullman City Industrial Development Board.
Also in attendance were Holm Riepenhausen, President of REHAU Automotive LLC; Helmut Ansorge, REHAU Automotive Executive Board; Albert von Pelser, REHAU Cullman Plant Manager; and REHAU Americans CEO, Christian Fabian.
President of the Cullman Economic Development Agency, Peggy Smith, opened the ceremony. She has been working on the project since its beginning. “This beautiful new freestanding facility is one of a kind. Engineers are bringing specials skills and they're doing it right here in Cullman. This is a new day for us,” she stated.
The opening of the technical center also marks the company's completion of a multi-phase project that includes an expansion to its automotive production facilities that was completed in 2014.
This project is a significant investment in REHAU's Cullman location and signifies the company's position as the top manufacturing employer in the area.
“REHAU's continued investment in Cullman has a vital impact on the local workforce and economy,” stated Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
“REHAU has been a great partner in job creation, and I am honored that REHAU decided to open its first U.S. technical center in Alabama. This decision speaks volumes about the capabilities of the state's automotive sector and our workforce.”
The new state-of-the-art facility provides a workspace for 45 engineers. It will combine production, engineering, and development into one location. This will allow research and development functions at REHAU to take place right beside production, and it will keep jobs related to the company's North American business in the Cullman area.
REHAU currently makes car parts such as bumpers, spoilers, and rocker panels for companies such as BMW, Mercedes, and Nissan. The recent improvements in production allow an increase in efficiency.
Cullman REHAU Plant Manager Albert von Pelser pointed out that before the improvements, developments took place at German REHAU technical centers and then transferred to Cullman. “Now, process developments for products REHAU manufactures for the U.S. automotive market will be done mainly in Cullman,” he added.
REHAU also plans to use the facility as a venue for its new apprenticeship program. “This program mirrors the program we've been doing in Germany for years,” stated von Pelser.
The company has partnered with local educators to offer paid apprenticeships through the Cullman County School System's Fast Track for Industry Program and Wallace State Community College.
At the end of the ceremony, Peggy Smith presented a bench that will be placed outside the technical center in honor of the REHAU Technical Center grand opening on behalf of Industrial Development of the City of Cullman.
REHAU delivers “Unlimited Polymer Solutions,” and is the premium worldwide brand for polymer-based innovations and systems in construction, automotive, and industry. The company generates continuous growth through its expertise and innovative capabilities in materials development, systems design, and surface technology.
Approximately 19,000 employees at more that 170 locations around the world ensure success of the independent, privately held company.