ORANGEBURG — A Swedish supplier to Volvo and other automakers has cut the ribbon on its Orangeburg plant, the first site in North America for Gnotec.
The company formally opened the 30,000-square-foot production facility in the Carolina Regional Park, off U.S. Highway 601 near Interstate 26.
The building previously housed Mohawk Industries Inc., a flooring company. It’s expandable to 50,000 square feet.
Gnotec Group annocuned the U.S. expansion in November.
"It is a big step for us to enter here. This has been a really fast journey," Gnotec Group CEO Jorgen Oldenstedt told The Times and Democrat.
Gnotec plans to invest $5.9 million and create 78 new jobs over the next five years at the Midlands plant. Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College will help train the workforce.
The company plans to use the Orangeburg factory initially for warehousing and, later, manufacturing focused on welding and product assembly. It will rely on robot technology to handle the precision welding tasks.
"By doing this, we are really ensuring the piece coming out is correct," Gnotec general manager Johan Westerberg said. "That is the main reason for automation. Everything is advanced. The technology that will be utilized is the latest."
The company will receive bulk material through the Port of Charleston from Europe and then customize the parts. Volvo Cars, which started production at its only U.S. assembly plant in Berkeley County last year, is one of the primary customers.
"We are providing body-wide parts to the automobile industry," Westerberg said, according to The Times and Democrat report. "Volvo is one of the main customers, and we are hoping the other big one will be a customer as well. The other one in Spartanburg: BMW."
Gnotec also has plants in its home country, Germany, Slovakia and China.
"Orangeburg has a good location," Westerberg said. "It is between Volvo Cars and BMW. It is close to I-26 and close to the port."