Automotive supplier REHAU, Inc. announced plans to establish a new technical center adjacent to their manufacturing facility in Cullman, Alabama.
REHAU will invest in between $2 and $3 million to construct the 20,000-square-foot technical center, which will be the company’s first R&D facility outside Germany.
The company plans to use this space for automotive component and systems design initiatives, which will then be introduced into REHAU’s production processes in Cullman and all over the world.
REHAU was founded in the Town of Rehau, Germany, but is now a global company headquartered in Muri, Switzerland.
Reiner Leifhelm, CFO of REHAU Automotive and also a member of the REHAU Automotive Executive Board, said their previous technology development projects had all been executed out of R&D centers in Germany, and then shared with the Cullman engineering and production teams.
He said that locating the new technical center in Cullman will centralize their efforts to streamline productivity and help keep more jobs related to REHAU’s North American automotive business in the Cullman region.
REHAU also plans to use the new center as a training venue, and is working on how their training department (REHAU Academy) can establish synergies with regional high schools, technical colleges and educational institutions that provide professional trade skills.
The Cullman R&D Center will house 45 engineers, along with other employees. Overall, REHAU is adding 140 new jobs in Cullman, and now has more than 700 employees in Alabama. The company has 17,000 employees in 170 locations around the world.
REHAU’s Cullman plant supplies bumper assemblies to the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.(MBUSI) plant in Vance, Alabama. REHAU recently won a new contract from MBUSI to develop and produce bumper assemblies for the Mercedes M-Class and C-Class vehicle lines. The Class-C Sedan is scheduled to be added to the MBUSI assembly line in Vance in 2014.
As a result of this contract, REHAU announced a $115 million expansion earlier this year with 200 new jobs. This investment and the 200 jobs created are separate from this latest announcement of the R&D Center and 140 new jobs.
Albert von Pelser, plant manager of the REHAU Cullman plant, attributed their success to the employees in Cullman and their international network, and the ongoing support from the Cullman Economic Development Agency, the City of Cullman, and the Industrial Development Board of Cullman.