International automotive supplier Continental opened its $35 million, 88,000 square-foot, expansion of its Henderson County manufacturing facility located in Fletcher, North Carolina. The expansion project added production and warehouse space, new manufacturing infrastructure as well as new equipment for machining and assembly. It will enable the company to create approximately 40 new jobs.
The Henderson plant is part of Continental's Hydraulic Brake Systems Business Unit in North America and has become a strong contributor in the company's strategy to further develop foundation brake and EPB product segments in the region, company officials said. The plant has been located in Fletcher for more than 16 years and currently employs more than 600.
"Continental's expansion is more evidence of North Carolina's improving economy and talented workforce," said Governor Pat McCrory. "Continental has been a great partner in our state and we look forward to their future growth and prosperity. We will continue to pursue policies that improve North Carolina's business climate and make it easier for companies like Continental to expand and create jobs."
Company officials said the driving force behind this investment is increasing demand in Electric Parking Brake production. The EPB differs from the traditional parking brake in that it is not operated by a mechanical handbrake or footbrake lever. It is activated either by the driver pressing a button or automatically by means of special add-on functions. The EPB offers greater convenience and safety for drivers and additional interior design opportunities for vehicle manufacturers.
"Thanks to the growing demand for brake calipers and the overall economic turnaround in North America, we have nearly tripled our regional production at the Henderson facility over the past three years," said Samir Salman, CEO for Continental North America. "This investment demonstrates Continental's commitment to deliver quality products to our customers and to the future growth of the automotive industry."
The story of growth and investment in Continental's Henderson plant is part of a larger, worldwide trend of increasing demand for EPB production, the company said. Electric parking brakes are gaining significant ground against traditional braking systems and will be fitted to an increasing range of vehicle models and classes within the next few years.
"As a result of the rapid growth in business, we have experienced a parallel increase in employment opportunities," said Jeff Scott, Plant Manager of the Henderson facility. "We have hired more than 200 new employees in the last three years."
"It is an exciting time to be a part of this growing industry and we feel that this investment will further strengthen our presence in the state of North Carolina. We are extremely thankful to all of those who have helped contribute to our success,” he added.