Germany-based Rehau announced plans to invest $50 million in an expansion project that will create 125 jobs at its Cullman County facility, which recently secured a contract to build exterior polymer-based components for Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama-made SUV models.
The growth plans were announced at an event held at the Rehau Technical Center to mark the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Cullman plant, which got its start producing bumpers for the first-generation Mercedes M-Class.
“Rehau has played a vital role in the success of Alabama’s automotive industry for 25 years, and it’s great to see the company expand its operation in Cullman,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “This expansion and the 125 new jobs it will create will be vital to Mercedes-Benz’s growth right here in Sweet Home Alabama.
“This investment shows that the Alabama-Germany partnership has never been stronger,” she said.
Rehau supplies components to the Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLS models of SUVs with conventional and plug-in hybrid drives made at the automaker’s sprawling manufacturing facility in Tuscaloosa County.
As the first major Mercedes passenger car production facility outside Germany, the Tuscaloosa plant is regarded as the nucleus of the automotive industry in Alabama. The plant is preparing to produce its first electric SUVs in 2022.
“Twenty-five years ago, Rehau followed Mercedes-Benz AG to the U.S. from the Bavarian town of Rehau to Cullman, Alabama,” said Automotive Plant Manager Venki Padmanabhan. “We were one of their earliest partners in launching their first SUV.
“Now, we are honored and excited that they have placed their faith in us once again to support the launch of their new models,” Padmanabhan added.
The project’s capital investment and job creation made it possible for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to provide a $700,000 grant to the city of Cullman toward a $1 million road project to service the Rehau plant. The city and the Cullman County Commission will split the cost of the remaining $300,000 to resurface and rehabilitate two miles of 24th Street that serves Rehau and other area industries.
“ADECA is pleased to have played a role in the success and expansion of the company through infrastructure grants to the city of Cullman,” said Kenneth Boswell, the agency’s director. “We congratulate Rehau not only on 25 years of operation in Cullman but also on its continued success and expansion into new lines, which will create even more jobs.”
In August, Rehau celebrated with its employees the 25th anniversary of its production operations in Cullman. The plant opened in early 1996 with 30 employees. A second plant producing PEXa pipe for heating and plumbing applications opened in 2007 and a technical center was added in 2015.
The Rehau Cullman operations have expanded numerous times to the current footprint of about 1 million square feet with nearly 800 employees.
“Rehau’s growth in Cullman is a tribute to both the company and the Cullman community,” said Dale Greer, director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency. “The plant has not only become an integral part of our community; its success has also played a significant role in making Alabama one of the largest automobile-producing states in America.”
Mayor Woody Jacobs said the 25-year partnership between the community and Rehau has benefited both the company and Cullman.
“Companies can grow where they have a quality labor force and a supportive community,” he said. “Rehau enjoys a great reputation worldwide for quality and innovation. I believe the Cullman facility contributes to those high standards. We are excited about Rehau’s continued success here.”
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.