Reliance Worldwide Corp., a leading maker of products for the plumbing and heating industries, announced plans to open a new manufacturing facility in Cullman to launch U.S. production of its innovative SharkBite plumbing connection system, creating 130 jobs over five years.
Atlanta-based Reliance Worldwide (RWC), operating in Cullman as Cash Acme, will invest $50 million in the Alabama facility, where it will introduce new robotic and high-tech plastic and brass manufacturing processes. The facility will include a research and development center, as well as a training academy.
“As most companies are looking to cut costs by outsourcing labor and relocating operations to low labor cost countries, RWC is leading the way to prove that the U.S.A. can competitively manufacture onshore,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Williams said.
“With the announcement, SharkBite plumbing products will be stamped ‘Made in Alabama’ by hardworking Alabamians and sold around the world,” Governor Robert Bentley said at an announcement ceremony this morning at Cullman City Hall.
In addition, RWC, whose Cash Acme produces valves, regulators and piping at an existing Cullman manufacturing facility, will invest $5 million to expand a 145,000-square-foot distribution center that opened in 2011. The expanded Cullman distribution hub will be approximately 235,000 square feet.
“Cash Acme is a top-flight Alabama manufacturer that has been in a growth mode for several years, and its patented SharkBite products are set to take off,” Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said. “This multi-faceted expansion project shows that the company has confidence in the capabilities and talents of its Alabama workforce and in an Alabama support system of state and local officials that will help it be successful.”
SharkBite, Made in Alabama
The new Cullman facility will manufacture the company’s SharkBite line, which previously had been produced only in Australia. The SharkBite line is a push-to-connect system that allows plumbers to join copper, CPVC or PEX pipe without soldering, clamps, unions or glue. RWC says 1 million SharkBite connections were made each week in the U.S. last year.
As part of the project, Cash Acme plans to open a SharkBite Training Academy in Cullman to provide instruction to plumbers on the products and to assist them in learning best practices.
“Producing these products in Alabama not only solidifies SharkBite as the hallmark fitting of the push-to-connect category, but also provides economic advantages for job creation, training and advanced education for employees and industry professionals,” Williams said.
The new Cullman facility will be located in the former AAR/Summa Technologies building, which will be doubled in size to 150,000 square feet.
The project represents a major expansion of the company’s presence in Cullman, where it now has 170 employees. Its Cullman Industrial Park manufacturing facility opened with 70,000 square feet and has been expanded twice to span a total of 250,000 square feet.
AIDT, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce that serves as the state’s job-training agency, will assist RWC with pre-employment screening and training services.
Cash Acme’s Cullman plant currently produces pressure relief valves, temperature release valves, and flow regulation valves. Each year, it produces enough PEX piping, used in the pipework systems of homes and businesses, to stretch across the width of Alabama 136 times. Along with those products, the company’s SharkBite products are packaged and shipped through the Cullman distribution center.
RWC was founded in 1947 and moved its corporate headquarters to Atlanta in 2011. It acquired Cullman’s IMI Cash Valve in 2002 and has steadily grown the business. Today, Cash Acme plumbing products are sold throughout the United States and exported to Canada, South America, the United Kingdom, continental Europe and Asia.
The State of Alabama will provide the company with $1.1 million in discretionary incentives for the creation of 130 jobs, and additional state incentives are possible if more jobs are created by the project. AIDT’s services are valued at $1.25 million. These incentives are separate from those granted by local governments.
Located along Interstate 65, just 40 minutes from both Birmingham and Huntsville, Cullman, a city of 15,000 residents, has become a thriving hub of diverse businesses such as auto suppliers, distribution operations and manufacturers. Economic development announcements in Cullman County have become commonplace, with 56 projects valued at more than $92 million recorded last year alone, creating more than 570 jobs.