Riley Pushes for Jobs, Brings New Construction to State

Thu August 19, 2004 - Southeast Edition

After touring a wood products manufacturing plant and negotiating for several hours with company leaders, Gov. Bob Riley says he is optimistic an announcement will be made in the next couple of months that the company will build a manufacturing facility in Alabama.

The German-based company, Kronospan, is a leading manufacturer of wood laminated flooring products with plants located throughout Europe and Asia. A facility in Alabama would be the company’s first venture in the United States.

“This is a company we’ve been talking with for some time, and one of the reasons I came to Germany was to move this project forward. We made great progress after several hours of negotiations and I believe we’re getting into a position where an announcement will be made in the near future,” Gov. Riley said. “We’re working as hard as we can to get this done.”

Kronospan has indicated it is looking to build a manufacturing plant either near Oxford or Fort Payne and is waiting for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to grant all necessary environmental permits. Governor Riley said he expects ADEM is working diligently to provide the required permits as quickly as possible.

Governor Riley left for Europe on July 16 on a Jobs Mission that has taken him to the Farnborough International Air Show outside London, England and to Germany. At the air show, the Governor promoted Alabama in talks he held with officials from international aerospace companies, including Boeing, Airbus, Aleina, Bombardier, GTN Aerospace and Lockheed Martin. He will remain in Germany for the remainder of this week to meet with company prospects.

Citizens wishing to learn more about Governor Riley’s economic development activities during the Jobs Mission can read a journal he is posting on the Internet at

Riley also joined with officials from two major companies at events in Dothan and Opelika in July to announce expansions of their operations in Alabama and the accompanying growth in new jobs for Alabamians.

“Alabama’s economy is gaining jobs and growing stronger every day,” Riley said. “The dynamic work ethic of Alabamians and the vibrant partnerships between state, local and company leaders are combining to bring Alabama greater prosperity.”

The governor joined officials of Mando America Corporation to announce the expansion of the company’s facility in Opelika as well as the relocation of Mando’s corporate headquarters to Opelika from Detroit. The expansion will add 170 new jobs to the company’s current workforce of 150.

Governor Riley was also in Dothan earlier in the day for the announcement that Movie Gallery Inc. is expanding and building a new distribution center there after a competitive search for a site. The project will create 74 new jobs and saves 169 current jobs.

In April 2003, Mando America located its first North American manufacturing operation in Opelika’s Northeast Industrial Park, a project with an initial $30 million investment. Construction of the facility was completed in June.

The recent announcement that the company is relocating its North American headquarters to Opelika and adding 175,000 square feet to its facility there represents an additional investment of $35 million.

With the expansion, slated for completion in spring 2005, Mando America’s Opelika facility will be 325,000 square feet. The company is one of the leading automotive parts manufacturers in the world and will produce brake corner modules, suspension modules and steering systems at its Opelika plant.

Movie Gallery’s new 190,000 square foot distribution center will be located on a 18-acre parcel of property in Dothan’s Westgate Industrial Park. The facility will serve some of the company’s 2,300 video stores and support future growth.

Joe Malugen, chairman and CEO of Movie Gallery, said the Dothan-based company was looking throughout the Southeast for the location of its distribution center and that efforts by Riley, the City of Dothan and the Houston County Commission “reaffirmed that Alabama is the right place for Movie Gallery’s distribution center.”

Also adding jobs to the state’s economy, German-based Eissman GmbH, a manufacturer of leather components for automobile interiors, will build a production plant in Pell City. The new manufacturing plant is expected to create 85 new jobs and represents a capital investment of $1.5 million.

“Leaders of Eissman will discover what the leaders of many other international companies have come to know, that Alabama has world-class workers who are second to none,” Riley said in making the announcement in Germany. “This new manufacturing plant means new jobs for Alabamians and a stronger economy and brighter future for our state.”

The Pell City plant will manufacture leather components for the interior of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, which is produced at Mercedes’s plant in Tuscaloosa County. The new Eissman plant in Pell City will be the company’s first venture in the United States.

Eissman is headquartered in Bad Urach, Germany, which is outside Stuttgart. The company was founded in 1964 and employs 2,000 workers in seven manufacturing plants located in Europe, China and South Africa.