PICKENS COUNTY — ERA Contact held a ribbon cutting last Wednesday, officially opening the company’s North American headquarters at the Pickens County Commerce Park.
Along with BREMI and Streicherplast, ERA Contact is one of the three arms of the Aichele Group which boasts eight production entities globally with plants in China, Turkey, Tunisia and Germany.
The new plant is expected to bring nearly 50 jobs to the area.
“As the world market leader for electrical railway couplings and as an innovative system supplier for high-tech products and solutions pertaining to cable and switch cabinet assembly,” said CEO Jochen Kurz. “We design and supply our partners across sectors and trough out the world.”
According to Kurz, the road to Pickens County was a brief one.
“It was December 2015, two days before Christmas, and Mrs. and Mr. Aichele informed Bernd Geiger and me that they wanted to make a private investment in a new building in the USA,” he said at the ceremony. “Decision made today means implementation tomorrow in the Aichele Group.”
In early 2016, the group flew to South Carolina to begin looking for a suitable building, but nothing clicked, he said.
“We met Klaus Westerwelle from Transdomo the first time and he guided us to different locations, all not 100 percent convincing,” said Kurz. “but on the last day, we came here to the Pickens County Commerce Park.”
Kurz said the multi-million dollar deal was sealed with a handshake after hours of discussion with Ray Farley, executive director of Alliance Pickens.
One of the main reasons ERA Contact selected Pickens County was the Career and Technology Center which Kurz stated greatly mirrors the system used back home in Germany.
Two CTC students were the first employees hired, he said.
“It was crystal clear for us to cooperate with the CTC because we love to work with young people,” said Kurz.
Last May, the $3.5 million was announced and construction began.
“Fourteen months later, the new building is completed and $4 million has been invested,” said Kurz. “It’s time to get to work.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.