South Korean manufacturing company to create more jobs in Meriwe - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

South Korean manufacturing company to create more jobs in Meriwether Co.

HOGANSVILLE, GA (WTVM) -

Mando America, a South Korean auto parts manufacturing company, is looking to create jobs for thousands of people in Meriwether and Troupe counties.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Mando America officials from all across the world attended the grand opening ceremony Wednesday morning, July 16.

"All of the people in Meriwether County and Troupe County won't have to leave this local area to find jobs," said Gerald Wyatt, HR manager at Mando America. "We plan to employee up to 1,600 people by 2020. We currently have 956 employees in Mando right now."

Mando America makes various components for several auto companies. The construction of their sites began in 2010 in Hogansville, Ga. The first Mando America site is located at 955 Meriwether Park Dr., where the grand opening ceremony took place.

Tae Kwak, President of Mando America, expects the sales to be about $1.3 billion by 2020.

"We already had two plants in Opelika," Kwak explained. "Selecting this site at this location was important, because we wanted it to be a little further away from our plants, but we also wanted it to be close to I-85 so we can help each other better."

Kwak said people of Meriwether County attracted the company to build their site at the current location.

"People from the county we met with and worked with gave their hearts out to this project," Kwak recalled. "It wasn't really about the money per say, but it was about how much the people showed us they wanted to us to be here. It really drove our chairman to make the decision to work and come here."

Kwak said the plant is expected to fill up in the next three years.

"Then we will have to expand," Kwak said. "The machine and electronic sides will be filled up within those years, and we will hire more people as the time goes."

Governor Nathan Deal also attended the event. He spoke about the importance of seeing manufacturing jobs emerging once again in Georgia.

"Our first question was, what is it going to take Georgia to become a leader in manufacturing across the country and across the world?" Deal explained. "Georgia also has a qualified work force which attracts manufacturers to our state. Some of our technical colleges, coupled with our Quick Start program, actually train employees with skills companies desire and look out for. They have a qualified workforce that is ready to go to work."

Kwak also credited Georgia's Quick Start program as one of the reasons why Mando America wanted to build their facility in Georgia.

"Georgia's Quick Start program was very attractive," Kwak said. "It helped us find people that we wanted with good work ethics and skills."

Two Mando America plants are currently established in Meriwether County.

"We built our first plant in Georgia where we have machining capability for calipers," Kwak said. "The other plant we built is used to make castings for calipers. So obviously, when you build one plant for one operation, you want to have the other operation near by it to vertically integrate."

Kwak explained about $109 million were invested into the first facility in 2012, and the company plans to invest additional $146 million into the facility in 2015 to create more room and job opportunities.

"This will be the largest single employer in Meriwether County with over 1,000 employees," Governor Deal explained. "It is the manifestation of the Korean presence which was primarily initiated with the coming of Kia to the state of Georgia in 2006. We have seen their supplier base continue to migrate to Georgia, and that is good news for us. This is an example of that kind of automotive manufacturing parts… company that is part of our growth in the automotive sector."

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