A sledge hammer through a makeshift wall marked the $25 million expansion of a drive shaft maker in North Charleston over the weekend.
State Commerce Department official Michael McInerney broke through the temporary wall set up for the occasion to mark the 10th anniversary of German-based firm IFA Rotorion in Palmetto Commerce Park.
The automobile parts manufacturer will grow by about 30,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet after knocking through a real wall to take over a part of the building that was previously leased by Terressentia, which purifies distilled spirits to reduce the amount of time to age alcohol. The alcohol firm is moving to a new location nearby on Carolina Commerce Boulevard by Nov. 15.
The expansion will also lead to more jobs, with about 30 new positions added next year, company spokeswoman Stephanie Rhodes said. The Patriot Boulevard plant currently employs about 450 people. More jobs could follow in subsequent years.
“There is definitely going to be some hiring in the near future,” Rhodes said.
IFA Rotorion plans to increase production within four years to 2 million units a year at the Ladson facility. It now makes about 1.5 million drive shafts each year in thousands of custom-made varieties for companies such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Mercedes and BMW. A plant in Europe also supplies Volkswagen, Porsche and Ferrari. Parts are shipped to customer plants throughout the U.S., Mexico, Europe and South America.
Rhodes said the expansion is in its early stages and new machines have not arrived yet, but it should be fully operational in a few months.
The company, part of IFA Rotorion Holding, employs close to 2,000 people in the U.S. and Germany. It’s building another plant in Shanghai, China. It will open in late 2014.
IFA Rotorion produces about 4.5 million drive shafts each year at all of its facilities and holds 10 percent of the global market. Its annual revenue is about $690 million.
“We have secured a convincing competitive edge here and, therefore, we look to the future with great confidence,” said Felix von Nathusius, CEO of IFA Rotorion North America, in a prepared statement.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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