Fritz Winter North America, a subsidiary of German auto parts manufacturer Fritz Winter Eisengiesserei GmbH, plans to build a new iron foundry and machining operation in south central Kentucky to produce disc brake rotors for automakers in the Midwest and Southeast. Construction is scheduled to begin this year on new operation, described by Fritz Winter as a project worth “more than €100 million,” and production of finished parts would begin next year.
Local reports put the value of the investment in Franklin, KY, much higher, at $193.7 million.
The new plant will cast over 60,000 metric tons/year of ferrous parts. Fritz Winter predicted the employment total would top 200, and it indicated a second-stage of development is already in consideration. Specific details of the operation were not announced.
Fritz Winter reportedly produces nearly 800 different cast iron parts for automotive and commercial vehicle brakes, chassis, and motors, as well as hydraulic systems, in gray iron, ductile iron, and compacted graphite iron (CGI.) Components are supplied as rough castings, pre-machined or fully machined parts.
While it reportedly has over 3,700 employees at its headquarters operation in Stadtallendorf, Germany, in March 2015 Fritz Winter established a joint venture with Asimco (China) Ltd. to produce and distribute brake drums, brake discs, and other cast products for Chinese automotive and truck manufacturers.
“The installation of our new plant in Franklin is an important milestone in our globalization strategy,” stated Jörg Rumikewitz, CEO of Fritz Winter, at the project announcement in December. “The central position in the East of the U.S.A., and with this the proximity to our customers; the availability of highly skilled workers; and the excellent infrastructure on-site were deciding for the choice of Franklin, Kentucky, as our new U.S. headquarters.”
Another brake specialist, Brembo S.p.A., is building a new iron foundry in Michigan, also to supply the North American automotive market.
“With this step we continue to strengthen our position on one of the most important automotive markets in the world,” according to Henning Knipper, head of corporate development at Fritz Winter. “The fact that we have already received two orders from well-known, premium-manufacturers for the new plant shows that also our customers are convinced of this strategy.”
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Fritz Winter North America for performance-based tax incentives up to $5 million. It also gave preliminary approval for up to $690,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, and the new operation is expected to receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network for job recruitment and job placement services, customized training and job training incentives.