Gov. Matt Bevin recently congratulated Fritz Winter North America LP on opening phase one of its iron casting foundry and manufacturing facility in Franklin, a large-scale project producing brake rotors and bringing about 200 new jobs to Southwest Kentucky.
The company’s Stadtallendorf, Germany-based parent, Fritz Winter Eisengießerei GmbH & Co. KG, invested $110 million in the initial phase, which could grow to about $194 million with a planned expansion. Total employment could surpass 300.
“Fritz Winter is a global leader in the automotive supply industry, and we are thrilled to welcome the company’s operations to Kentucky,” said Gov. Bevin, who visited the German company’s headquarters during a Europe trip last year. “This company is making a long-term investment, as its nearly $200 million foundry demonstrates, and their presence in Franklin is already creating hundreds of jobs. Fritz Winter’s Simpson County facility will prove to be a game-changer for countless families in the region. Kentucky is grateful for their strong vote of confidence.”
Company executives announced the project in December 2015 and construction of the facility began in late 2016 in the Wilkey North Industrial Park. Employees at the facility began casting and machining disc brake rotors in June and celebrated its grand opening along with state and local officials in late October.
“After a construction time of not even one year, the first products rolled off the production line. This is a performance we can be really proud of,” said Jörg Rumikewitz, CEO of Fritz Winter.
The company cited Kentucky’s central location between American-owned automakers in the northern US and European-owned automotive assembly plants in the South. The location also will bring opportunities for new business with customers in the commonwealth and Midwest.
Ulf M. Kranz, the company’s CFO, said the new facility helps Fritz Winter produce brake parts locally for global vehicle platforms.
“After we have supplied the American market from Germany for more than 50 years now, our first iron foundry in the USA is an important milestone of our globalization strategy,” Kranz said. “This investment and our ability to meet the requirements of globally thinking customers in the automotive industry increase the competitiveness of Fritz Winter and therefore contribute to safeguarding the existing employment at Stadtallendorf.”
Founded in Stadtallendorf, Germany in 1951, Fritz Winter is a world-market leader in the production of cast iron engine blocks and heads, brake rotors and drums, flywheels and hydraulic housings. It serves the international car and truck industry and has developed a competitive advantage in lightweight and material-specific design. The family-owned company began exporting to the US in 1966 and currently employs 3,700 people worldwide.
Sen. David Givens, of Greensburg, said the local community stands ready to meet the company’s needs.
“I am pleased to congratulate Fritz Winter on its grand opening in Franklin,” Sen. Givens said. “I know our workforce in Simpson County and the surrounding region will serve the company well in filling its employee needs, and I look forward to Fritz Winter’s success in Kentucky and beyond.”
Rep. Wilson Stone, of Scottsville, thanked everyone involved with bringing Fritz Winter to the region.
“This is truly a great day for Franklin and our region’s auto industry,” Rep. Stone said. “I’m proud to welcome Fritz Winter as our community’s newest corporate citizen and want to thank our state and local leaders for coming together to help make all of this possible.”
Franklin Mayor Ronnie Clark noted that Fritz Winter’s impact will stretch beyond the community’s borders.
“We appreciate the partnership we had with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development in landing the Fritz Winter project for Franklin, Kentucky,” Mayor Clark said. “Our local high school students, along with many residents of Franklin, now have a great opportunity for high-paying, skilled jobs with this excellent company. Fritz Winter will be one of the premier industries not only in Franklin, but in Kentucky as well. We are excited to have them as a part of our community.”
Simpson County Judge-Executive Jim Henderson said the company will have a substantial impact right away.
“Fritz Winter is one of the top economic development projects that Simpson County has ever landed,” Judge-Executive Henderson said. “This $193 million project will provide hundreds of new jobs for our local and area citizens. We are already seeing the positive economic impact that this project is having on our community. We are very grateful that Fritz Winter chose Franklin, Kentucky for its first North American manufacturing facility.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in December 2015 preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $5 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Fritz Winter for up to $690,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
Fritz Winter also can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. In fiscal 2017, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for more than 120,000 Kentuckians and 5,700 companies from a variety of industry sectors.