As sunroof supplier Webasto Roof Systems Inc. marks its 20-year anniversary in Lexington, the company will add a new production line with a $15.2 million investment, creating 183 jobs, Gov. Matt Bevin announced.
“Webasto is a respected employer in Fayette County and has been a top-quality supplier to automakers around the world over the past two decades,” Gov. Bevin said. “The company is indeed taking its business to the next level with this significant expansion that will create more than 180 jobs in the Lexington area. This project is further evidence of Kentucky’s position as the center of engineering and manufacturing excellence in America. We are grateful to Webasto for their continued commitment to the Bluegrass State and our strong workforce.”
In the two-year project, company leaders plan to add the new production line in one of two existing facilities in the Blue Grass Business Park, where the Webasto became the first tenant in 1998. The line will manufacture high-tech, electronically tintable all-glass panorama roof systems — which include optional tilt-slide sunroofs — for luxury vehicle marques.
“Before the end of the year we will launch three completely new sunroofs with two different customers. These launches will continue into next year with increased volumes,” said John Wilder, Webasto Roof Systems plant manager. “Our technology is some of the best offered by any manufacturers anywhere in the world, these are truly exciting times for Webasto and our Kentucky family.”
The 572-employee Kentucky campus, which includes dedicated space for an employee training “dojo,” is part of Webasto Roof Systems, headquartered in Rochester Hills, Mich., a subsidiary of Stockdorf, Germany-based Webasto Group a global innovative systems partner to almost all automobile manufacturers and among the industry’s top 100 suppliers as ranked by Automotive News. In its core business areas, the company develops and produces sunroofs, panorama roofs and convertible roofs as well as thermo systems for all drive types. In addition, Webasto is expanding its product portfolio for electromobility with battery and charging systems.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray praised the company’s success and longevity in the city.
“Lexington is a great place to do business, as Webasto’s growth and success here illustrate,” Mayor Gray said. “Congratulations, Webasto. We look forward to another 20 years of good jobs for Lexington citizens.”
Sen. Ralph Alvarado, of Winchester, thanked Webasto for growing its Lexington operation.
“A substantial investment and 180 new full-time jobs is the perfect way to celebrate a 20th anniversary,” Sen. Alvarado said. “Webasto has long been a dedicated employer in Fayette County, and I thank the company for once again showing its commitment to the community and state.”
Rep. George Brown Jr., of Lexington, recalled when Webasto was established 20 years ago.
“I was proud to be part of Commerce Lexington and the mayor’s training center when Webasto first came to our community two decades ago and hired its first 100 workers, so I am definitely pleased to see the company invest even more and add to the thriving economic corridor in the northwest corner of Lexington,” Rep. Brown said. “Today’s announcement is another example that our community has everything a company could want or need. I want to thank everyone who had a hand in making this possible.”
Commerce Lexington Inc. President and CEO Bob Quick, CCE, welcomed the expansion.
“Since Webasto located to Commerce Lexington’s business park 20 years ago, our team has enjoyed the strong partnership with the company,” Quick said. “Manufacturing and foreign direct investment are key components of our economy, and we are thrilled with Webasto’s confidence to expand in Lexington.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in August preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $2 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
In addition, Webasto can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. In fiscal year 2017, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for more than 120,000 Kentuckians and 5,700 companies from a variety of industry sectors.
For more information on Webasto, visit www.webasto.com/us/.
A detailed community profile of Fayette County can be viewed here.
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The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2017 totaled a state record $9.2 billion, spurring more than 17,200 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.