By Jerry Underwood
Made in Alabama
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield joined St. Clair County and Pell City officials to help Eissmann Group Automotive LLC celebrate the completion of a $14.5 million expansion project at the auto supplier’s Pell City campus.
Eissmann announced plans in June 2016 to expand its Pell City facility with a new 130,000-square-foot building featuring advanced manufacturing equipment for a new production line. The project is adding 200 workers to the company’s St. Clair County workforce.
“From the first investment Eissmann Automotive made in Pell City, the community and elected officials have made us feel welcomed and supported,” Claudia Eissmann, chair of the Advisory Council of Eissmann Automotive Deutschland GmbH.
“Our facility has grown within the community and we look forward to continuing to work with the City of Pell City, the St. Clair County Commission and the Economic Development Council for many years to come.”
Eissmann specializes in car interiors, built-to-print trim components, shifter modules and other parts for automakers that include Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jeep, Tesla, Porsche and Volkswagen. Based in Bad Urach, Germany, the company operates 13 production facilities on three continents.
“Eissmann has found the right environment for growth in St. Clair County, where it has carried out multiple expansions that have greatly expanded its workforce,” Canfield said.
“Over the years, we’ve developed a productive partnership with this top-flight company, and we will strive to help it continue to grow in Alabama.”
During the last decade, Eissmann has grown to become the largest industrial employer in St. Clair County. Starting out with 85 employees in its initial phase, the company’s Alabama operation had 650 workers at the time of the 2016 expansion announcement, according to the St. Clair County Economic Development Council.
“We are always excited to see our existing industries continue to expand in St. Clair County. The addition of jobs to St. Clair County allows our citizens to work closer to home and improves their quality of life,” said Paul Manning, chairman of the St. Clair County Commission.
“Eissmann is a tremendous community partner and we look forward to growing with them in the future.”
“With this expansion, Eissmann has become the largest employer in Pell City, and we are excited to see them continue to grow in our community. We are very fortunate that they chose our community as their North American headquarters, and we hope they will continue to expand here,” added Pell City Mayor Bill Pruitt.
Eissmann Group Automotive was founded in 1964, when Helmut Eissmann and his sons Volkhard and Jürgen launched a business developing, manufacturing and selling automotive accessories in Bad Urach-Seeburg.
Manufacturing leather gear knobs provided the fledgling company with an entry into the world of leather craftsmanship. A mother-in-law’s sewing machine was fitted with an edge trimmer, and the first leather covers were produced. Audi became the company’s first automotive customer to introduce a leather gear knob. It was so satisfied with the results that it went on to order leather-covered armrests and internal door handles for the Audi 100.
Eissmann Group Automotive now concentrates its activities on the production of leather interior fittings for the automotive industry. In 1997, the company founded its first foreign subsidiary in Hungary, followed in quick succession by the Czech Republic in 1998, Slovakia in 2001, Great Britain in 2002, Mexico in 2004, the U.S. in 2005 and China in 2007.
“Eissmann is a solid, family-owned company that has outperformed even our greatest expectations in Pell City. They pride themselves on the highest quality craftsmanship in the industry, which is a perfect fit for the high-end automotive customers that they serve,” said Don Smith, executive director of the St. Clair County Economic Development Council.
“They have incredible leadership in management at their Pell City facility, and we look forward to working with them on future expansions.”
At Monday’s ceremony, Canfield said Eissmann’s growth story in Alabama reflects the state’s emergence as an auto production center, where around 1 million vehicles and 1.7 million engines are assembled annually. In just a generation, Alabama has become a Top 5 auto-producing state, with more gains expected.
“Great companies like Eissmann have come into the picture as a result of this footprint that we have established as an automotive powerhouse in Alabama,” he said. “Eissmann brings with it a rich history, high-quality products and a commitment to doing the job right and to meeting their customers’ stringent standards.
“This has all come together in Alabama, where Alabama workers have put their pride and their hard efforts into the products that are made here.”
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.