March 08, 2010
Aiken County is the new home of MTU Detroit Diesel’s new North American manufacturing facility.Representatives with Tognum AG, MTU Detroit Diesel and state and local legislators gathered Friday to hear the news at the SKF building in Graniteville’s Sage Mill Industrial Park where the manufacturing and assembly of off-road engines will take place. Both South Carolina and Aiken County leaders lauded Tognum’s decision to bring its new MTU facility here and its commitment to a $45 million investment and the creation of 250 jobs over the next four years. The facility will replace the existing assembly plant in Detroit, Mich.”From our first meeting, we felt they would be a real asset to our community,” said Dr. Robert Alexander, secretary of the Aiken/Edgefield Economic Development Partnership. “MTU cares about its product and its people – two keys to success – and that means something good is going to happen.”Gov. Mark Sanford, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and Rep. Roland Smith each agreed that MTU’s presence is a shot in the arm to a community that has struggled to regain its footing for several years.In the 270,000-square-foot Sage Mill site, MTU will produce its Series 2000 and Series 4000 engines for applications in the marine, rail, power generation, oil and gas, agriculture, mining, construction and industrial and defense markets. According to Matthias Vogel, CEO of MTU Detroit Diesel, production capacity is anticipated to be 3,000 of the Series 2000 engines and 4,000 of the Series 4000 engines. Production at the new plant – what MTU called its North American “cornerstone” – is scheduled to begin mid-October.Workers will manufacture the several thousand components that make up one engine, such as cylinder heads, high-volume engine attachments and fittings, while others will work on the 450-foot-long assembly line. Engines will then run in test cells to ensure they work before being shipped to their final destinations.As early as 2008, Tognum announced it would be looking for a new location in the United States but held off on the search because of the global financial and economic crisis. The company warmed to the ideas of taking advantage of lower purchase price levels for industrial sites and of moving into a standing facility instead of building a new plant.MTU entered into a due diligence period once it zeroed in on Aiken County and began conducting site studies and legal proceedings. The final contracts were signed just a few days ago.”Here we want to lay our future,” Vogel said.Vogel and Dr. Ulrich Dohle, chief operating officer of Tognum AG, listed several key factors they said played a pivotal role in the company’s site selection. Tognum liked the SKF building’s pristine condition and Sage Mill’s proximity to I-20 for the transport of goods. It also liked Aiken County’s proximity to Charleston’s port and this area’s “talented workforce.”Last year, Aiken County Council began working on a fees-in-lieu of taxes agreement, a real estate contract for 50 acres at Sage Mill and other special incentives for MTU Detroit Diesel, known only then as “Project X.” Last month, it voted to internally finance MTU at $1 million instead of issuing special source revenue bonds.”Projects of this magnitude don’t just happen,” said Council Chairman Ronnie Young. “Our workforce will rise to any challenge. In Aiken County, productivity is the order of the day, and friendship is how we do business.”The 50 acres in Sage Mill will allow MTU to grow and expand its operations as the global market warrants.Production will stop in mid-July at the facility in Detroit. The sales organization, management and entire office staff of MTU Detroit Diesel will remain in Detroit. According to its website, Detroit Diesel employs approximately 2,600 people. It is unclear how many work at the company’s facility in Detroit, Mich.BreakoutMTU expects to begin hiring in May. Suppliers should send inquiries and potential job seekers should send their cover letter and resume to MTUAiken@mtu-online.com.