Ivey, Reliance Worldwide break ground on 300,000-sq.-foot distribution center

RWC will also expand manufacturing, add at least 130 new jobs

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Gov. Kay Ivey (center), accompanied by (left to right) Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer, Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs, former CEDA Director and current Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce Interim President and CEO Peggy Smith and Reliance Worldwide Corporation Americas CEO Sean McClenaghan, breaks ground at the site of Reliance Worldwide’s new distribution facility in Cullman Monday morning. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Reliance Worldwide on Monday morning officially announced and broke ground on a 300,000-square-foot distribution center to be located on an 81-acre site off Cherokee Avenue in southwest Cullman, drawing none other than Gov. Kay Ivey herself to come and pick up a shovel. Also in attendance were Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and representatives of the Cullman City Council, Good Hope Mayor Jerry Bartlett, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Director Kenneth Boswell, Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA) Director Dale Greer and former director Peggy Smith and Cullman Industrial Development Board Chairman Jeff Hill, along with representatives of the Cullman County Economic Development Agency and Alston Construction.

The new distribution center will add 50 new jobs, while an expansion of Reliance Worldwide’s facility in Cullman’s Industrial Park II will add 80 new manufacturing jobs, bringing the company’s local workforce to more than 400.

Ivey told the audience, “What an exciting day! Thank you for being here as we celebrate the groundbreaking of Reliance Worldwide’s 300,000-square-foot distribution facility! Throughout my time as your governor, finding innovative ways to strengthen our state’s economy and develop its workforce to meet the unique demands of today’s market has been a top priority of my administration. Through public-private partnerships, Alabama has created one of the most business-friendly environments in the entire world, with both foreign and domestic entities relocating and expanding here almost daily. 

“The state of Alabama and Reliance Worldwide have shared a strong and productive relationship for quite some time now, with their Cash Acme operation having grown to be a vital piece of Cullman’s local economy and Alabama’s manufacturing industry. Since the opening of its first location in 1996, Reliance Worldwide has experienced numerous expansions and has grown to provide over 300 well-paying jobs in the Cullman community. This company has truly set the standard in the development of water control systems and plumbing innovation, and this new facility will continue to ensure they do just that.  

“Today’s groundbreaking represents this world-class company’s continued commitment to the great state of Alabama, and we’re so very proud to have you here! I look forward to having the opportunity to tour this facility once it’s been completed. 

“Thank you, and may God continue to bless each of you and the great state of Alabama!”

Speaking on behalf of Reliance Worldwide, Americas CEO Sean McClenaghan talked to the audience about the company’s history in Cullman, purchasing Cash Acme 18 years ago. At that time, Cash Acme had approximately $12 million in annual revenue, approximately 80 employees, and its entire operation in a 50,000-square-foot building across Cherokee Avenue from the site now being developed. 

McClenaghan thanked the City of Cullman and Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA), specifically director Dale Greer and former director Peggy Smith, for their support of the company.

He pointed out that Reliance Worldwide has now invested more than $100 million in its Cullman facilities and has a current revenue of nearly $600 million. The company has four manufacturing sites, as well as multiple distribution centers, and is approaching 500 employees in Alabama. When the new Cullman distribution center is completed, the company will have nearly 1.1 million square feet of manufacturing and distribution space in Cullman County.

McClenaghan told the audience, “We wouldn’t be making this investment in our business unless we believed that our growth will continue. At RWC, we have a track record of growth and are continuing to take steps to make sure this continues. As we do, the State of Alabama and Cullman will play a critical role in supporting these initiatives.”

Praise for Gov. Ivey

When he introduced the governor, Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs said, “During Governor Ivey’s leadership, Alabama has seen its lowest overall unemployment ever and some of the largest additions and expansions of business and industry. Under her administration, all 67 counties reached single-digit unemployment for the first time in a decade. Subsequently, Alabama reached a historic low unemployment rate of 2.8%, marking the first time our state experienced an unemployment rate in the 2% range. I have no doubt that under her continued guidance and common-sense decision making, we will continue to not creep, but bound back in that direction as we navigate through COVID and the rest of 2020.

“Since taking office, Governor Ivey has helped recruit more than $14 billion in economic development investments, creating over 34,000 new jobs for our economy! Governor Ivey’s national leading Strong Start, Strong Finish- SSSF- education initiative works to integrate Alabama’s early childhood education, K-12 education and workforce development efforts into a seamless educational journey for all Alabamians, showing Alabama’s priority in education.

“In 2019, Governor Ivey, with the support of community stakeholders and the Alabama Legislature, led the effort to enact the Rebuild Alabama Act, which is our state’s first infrastructure investment in nearly 30 years. Governor Ivey understands that for Alabama to secure a strong footing for today and future generations, doing what is popular is not always right; however, being courageous and tough enough to do what is right will be how history judges us. As Mark Twain once said, ‘Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.’

“Governor Ivey has committed her life to working with and for the people of Alabama. Her background in education, banking and economic development have fueled her pursuit to strengthen Alabama’s economy, education system, health care options and infrastructure investment efforts. Governor Ivey welcomes Alabamians, from all parts of the state, to get involved and help support our state’s top priorities. We must all be willing to work together, such as this moment here, so that today’s challenges can be looked upon as tomorrow’s accomplishments.

“Today is a testimony of the patience, faith and drive of Governor Ivey and her staff. For that, we are more than grateful, and look forward to much continued success.”

In his remarks, Greer recognized the contributions of several people and agencies. In addition to Ivey, Boswell and others already named, he added:

  • Thomas Tyson of the Alabama Department of Commerce 
  • Kristi Bain of Alabama Industrial Development Training
  • John Cooper and Curtis Vincent of the Alabama Department of Transportation
  • U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama and his local representative Paul Housel
  • Harry Schmidt of the Tennessee Valley Authority
  • State Senator Garlan Gudger and State Representatives Corey Harbison, Randall Shedd and Scott Stadthagen
  • Chairman Kenneth Walker of the Cullman County Commission
  • Jason Grimmett of the Cullman County Industrial Development Authority
  • Ashley Graves with the Cullman County Economic Development Agency

 

Greer noted financial support for the project, including:

  • Two grants from ADECA totaling $600,000 for site infrastructure and a traffic signal to be placed at the intersection of State Road 59 (Cherokee Avenue) and 24th Street Southwest
  • Matching grants from the city and county industrial development boards totaling $100,000 for site infrastructure 
  • Grants from the City of Cullman and City of Good Hope totaling $100,000 for the traffic signal
  • A $50,000 pledge from Reliance Worldwide for the traffic signal

 

A crew from Alston Construction went to work as soon as the ceremony ended. Work on both the manufacturing expansion and distribution center is expected to be completed within 12 months.

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Gov. Kay Ivey and representatives of Reliance Worldwide, City of Cullman, City of Good Hope, Cullman city and county economic development agencies, Cullman Industrial Development Board, Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, ADECA and Wallace State Community College broke ground on Reliance Worldwide’s new distribution center Monday morning. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)
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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com