"We are just thrilled to finally have a manufacturing footprint here in the U.S. We have been a trader for so many years," said Irene Coughlin, managing director of the Americas, who was in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the NAHAD Annual Convention for hose manufacturers and distributors. "We have a decent presence in North America, but this will really establish us here. The goal is to grow the Americas region … not to take away from Europe, but thus far we have been relatively small here. We can now offer a whole array of products here."
The Coweta County building will employ about 70 people, Coughlin said, with room for expansion. The company already is hiring on the operational side, as well as for customer service, marketing, finance and supply chain management positions, and is converting a portion of the facility for its office space.
The notion of manufacturing product where its customers exist is not lost on Semperit management, and the centralized Georgia location meets that need.
"Customer intimacy is one of Semperit's strategic guiding principles," said Martin Fuellenbach, CEO of Semperit A.G. Holding. "With our commitment and investments in a market-oriented approach, stronger focus on applications, and faster product development, we want to drive growth in North and South America."
And the Newnan facility is committed to sustainability and renewable energy, Coughlin said.
According to Semperit, the company looks to remain in step with its environmental objectives, waste reduction and lower energy consumption, as the new U.S. plant will be powered 100 percent by renewable energy sources.
With the massive infrastructure plan being considered by U.S. legislators, Semperit is banking on the North American construction sector, which is expected to spend around $212 trillion by 2030.
"We have seen substantial growth in the Americas in recent years, and we are convinced that our strengthened regional focus, plus the establishment of the U.S. headquarters, in combination with a new production site, will strongly support in meeting our increased customer requirements while allowing us to service customers faster and more efficiently," Coughlin said. "The new headquarters and manufacturing footprint will also allow for improved operating efficiencies, increased supply chain and logistics management and enhanced communications for our region."
Coughlin said that supply chain issues—including long lead times for raw materials—continue to be a problem across the industry. However, Semperit compounds a majority of its own materials and has been able to avoid such supply chain crunches for its customers.
"Our initial supply comes from our own facilities," she said. "But in the future, we may look to local mixers to help facilitate things. Like anyone else, supply is being disrupted and the lead times are enormous.
"But all our plants are open and they are all operating."
Semperit A.G. is headquartered in Vienna, Austria, with other facilities in Asia, Europe, India, Australia and South America, as well as in the U.S. in Georgia, New Jersey and Nevada.
Semperit began in 1824 in Austria, when its founder was granted a concession to produce waterproof clothing from woolen fabrics. Its Wimpassing plant there houses the Semperform segment, which produces filter membranes, sleeper pads for rail systems and other molded products.
On the industrial side, the seal division is based in Vienna, while Semperit Industrial Products N.A. is based in Fair Lawn, N.J. Semperit maintains other, smaller facilities in Georgia (besides the new facility, a conveyance plant), New Jersey and Nevada, with the latter two locations processing hand rails for escalators and other applications.
"We are mainly focused on construction now, but we have the technology to apply that to other industries," Coughlin said of the Newnan site.
Sempertrans and Sempermed, for transportation and medical elastomer applications, as well as Semperflex for hydraulic and industrial hoses—products that were on display at NAHAD—round out the overall Semperit business segments.
Besides seals, conveyance and the other aforementioned products, the publicly held Semperit A.G. develops, produces and sells cable car rings, pressure washing hoses, products for railway superstructures, and examination and surgical gloves that are sold in more than 100 countries. Semperit employs about 7,000 people with 14 manufacturing facilities worldwide.