MONTGOMERY, Alabama – REHAU Inc., a European company that produces components used in automotive manufacturing and other industries, has chosen Cullman, Ala., for the location of its first research and development facility outside of Germany, the Alabama Department of Commerce announced today.
REHAU’s Alabama Technical Center will serve as the training and conferencing center for its business divisions in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The $2.5 million, 20,000-square-foot technical center will employ an additional 140 people in Cullman within five years of operation. Included in that total is an estimated 45 engineers. The company’s other technical centers are located in the German cities of Rehau and Feuchtwangen. REHAU produces more than 40,000 polymer-based solutions used in construction, automotive and other industries.
“This new investment by REHAU will mean more good jobs for the people of Alabama,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “REHAU already has a significant presence in Cullman County, and the company’s continued growth is a testament to the dedicated, skilled workforce and the positive business climate we have in this state. I appreciate REHAU’s continued investment in Alabama.”
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield added: “Having a high-tech company like REHAU choose Alabama for a U.S.-based research and development facility means new products will be born here in Alabama, which will lead to further growth of industry in our state.”
Initial plans call for the new Cullman facility to house a robotic teaching cell supporting the paint application process that is independent of the production paint line. A small prototype shop will allow design engineers to work on future automotive products right next to the workstations.
Engineers will be housed in the world-class facility with optimized working conditions for the development of part design integrated with production processes. REHAU also will construct a showroom for the company’s products and production capabilities.
The new R&D center will be built on property adjacent to the manufacturing plant, which produces bumper assemblies for Mercedes-Benz. Founded in Rehau, Germany and now headquartered in Muri, Switzerland, REHAU began production in Cullman in 1995 and was the first Tier-1 supplier to follow Mercedes-Benz to Alabama. The company now boasts more than 700 employees in the Alabama facility encompassing more than 750,000 square feet.
“With these continuous developments, REHAU secures its technological advancement within the marketplace and eventually its ability to provide jobs at locations worldwide,” said Reiner Leifhelm, CFO of REHAU Automotive and a member of the REHAU Automotive Executive Board.
REHAU said the building project is slated for completion by the spring of 2015. It said the North American technical center will be dedicated to injection molding, paint, fabrication and supply chain processes. The company plans to specifically use this new space to conduct automotive component and systems design initiatives that will then be carried forth into production at the Cullman plant and throughout the world.
“Previously our technology development projects were executed out of centers in Germany, and then shared with the engineering and production teams in Cullman,” Leifhelm said. “The new technical center, which will be located at the Cullman facility, will centralize efforts to streamline productivity, as well as keep more jobs related to REHAU’s North American automotive business in the Cullman region.”
REHAU also recently completed a $119 million expansion in Cullman, making it one of the largest industrial projects in Alabama in 2012.