U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby got a sneak peek of REHAU's newly expanded operations during a visit to the Cullman plant on his tour of North Alabama companies Monday.
Shelby, R- Tuscaloosa, met with senior plant leadership and spoke with a handful of REHAU's 800 employees at the tier-one supplier for Mercedes-Benz. Shelby got a first-hand look at expanded bumper assemblies for Mercedes vehicle lines after the plant’s $100 million expansion doubled the facility’s loading area.
"One-million square feet of manufacturing right here," Shelby said. "Isn't that good for Cullman."
Shelby said it was critical to hear from job creators and workers how federal policies were affecting economic growth and what Washington D.C. could do to create more jobs in Alabama. He plans to visit a business in each of the state's 67 counties during his break from Congress.
"We want people to know Alabama is open for business," he said. "Our job is to create the conditions for more job creation. Government should be fostering business and job growth, not getting in the way."
Cullman's REHAU plant expansion gives it the inventory space to manufacture more products for Mercedes Benz, said Bruce Claridge with construction and PEX pipe production.
"We've added four new vehicles, and the extra space allows us to keep up," Claridge said.
Shelby and plant leadership toured a new overhead assembly line where bumpers rolled by bound for automated painting. On another line, robots assembled lighting and various trims on bumpers while employees conducted quality control checks on the finished product.
A truck loaded with REHAU products leaves the Cullman plant bound for the Tuscaloosa assembly plant, on average, every 1 hour and 15 minutes, officials said.
Cullman's REHAU is one of the auto part manufacturer’s largest locations outside of Germany. The company employs approximately 17,000 employees at more than 170 locations around the world.
A new technical center in Cullman is expected to be unveiled in Spring 2015 which should create more than 150 jobs and used to develop and refine production processes. It will be the first ever built outside of REHAU’s native Germany.
Similar to a research and development lab, the center will focus on injection molding, paint, fabrication and supply chain processes. The company plans to specifically use this new space to conduct automotive component and system design initiatives that will be implemented in Cullman and eventually at plants across the globe.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.