REHAU recently hosted an event to announce plans to expand its plant in Cullman, Ala. and to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the plant’s establishment with local officials. The multi-million dollar expansion was prompted by a contract win to build exterior polymer-based components for Mercedes-Benz SUV models.
The ceremony, held at the REHAU Technical Center adjacent to the plant, was attended by Governor of Alabama Kay Ivey, Director of Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Kenneth Boswell, City of Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs, Cullman County Commission Chairman Jeff Clemmons, representatives of REHAU and a number of local officials.
Dale Greer, director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency, welcomed the guests and set the stage for the speakers by saying, “REHAU’s growth in Cullman is a tribute to both the company and the Cullman community. The plant has not only become an integral part of our community; its success has also played a significant role in making Alabama one of the largest automobile producing states in America.”
The project, which requires a total capital investment of $50 million for new production equipment and tooling and involves significant rearrangement within the Plant Cullman facility, is expected to create 125 new jobs.
“REHAU has played a vital role in the success of Alabama’s automotive industry for 25 years, and it’s great to see the company expand its operation in Cullman,” Governor Ivey said. “This expansion and the 125 new jobs it will create will be vital to Mercedes-Benz’s growth right here in Sweet Home Alabama. This investment shows that the Alabama-Germany Partnership has never been stronger.”
The project’s capital investment and job creation made it possible for ADECA to provide a $700,000 grant to the city of Cullman toward a $1 million road project to service the REHAU plant. The City and County Commission will share equally the cost of the remaining $300,000 to resurface and rehabilitate two miles of 24th Street that serves truck and employee traffic for REHAU and other industries in the area. The road work will be performed later this year.
“From its beginnings in 1996, REHAU’s Cullman plant has provided important support for Alabama’s automotive industry as well as good-paying careers for many Alabamians,” said Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. “ADECA is pleased to have played a role in the success and expansion of the company through infrastructure grants to the city of Cullman. We congratulate REHAU not only on 25 years of operation in Cullman but also on its continued success and expansion into new lines, which will create even more jobs.”
Cullman County Commission Chairman Jeff Clemons said, “REHAU continues to prosper in Cullman County and provide quality jobs. Jobs are important and REHAU has been one of the largest manufacturing employers here for years. I am honored the county and city can work together to help support this project expansion.”
Throughout the past 25 years, Cullman’s commitment to economic development has been vital to the growth of REHAU Plant Cullman. Ranked among the top 10 fastest growing cities in Alabama, the city provides a growing workforce for its vibrant manufacturing base. Contributing to a local qualified workforce is the support of Wallace State Community College’s machine tool technology curriculum. These community resources combined with the firm’s reputation for world-class quality and technical excellence have built REHAU into the second largest manufacturing firm and the seventh largest employer in Cullman.
Mayor Woody Jacobs said the 25-year partnership between the Cullman community and REHAU has benefitted both the company and Cullman. “Companies can grow where they have a quality labor force and a supportive community. REHAU enjoys a great reputation worldwide for quality and innovation. I believe the Cullman facility contributes to those high standards. We are excited about REHAU’s continued success here.”
During August, REHAU celebrated with its employees the 25-year anniversary of its production operations in Cullman. The plant opened in early 1996 with 30 employees producing bumpers for the 1997 Mercedes SUV made in Tuscaloosa, Ala. A second plant producing PEXa pipe for heating and plumbing applications was opened in 2007 and a technical center was added in 2015. The REHAU Cullman operations have expanded numerous times to the current footprint of about a million square feet with nearly 800 employees.
REHAU supplies components to the current Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLS models of SUVs with conventional and plug-in hybrid drives made in Tuscaloosa. As the first major Mercedes-Benz passenger car production facility outside Germany, the Tuscaloosa plant is regarded as the nucleus of the automotive industry in Alabama. With its ‘Electric First’ strategy, the automaker is consistently on the path to carbon neutrality and is investing heavily in transformation.
“Twenty-five years ago, REHAU followed Mercedes-Benz AG to the US from the Bavarian town of Rehau to Cullman, Alabama. We were one of their earliest partners in launching their first SUV. Now, we are honored and excited that they have placed their faith in us once again to support the launch of their new models,” said Automotive Plant Manager Dr. Venki Padmanabhan.