Two automotive manufacturers are adding jobs in South Carolina. Volvo Car Group’s Katarina Fjording, vice president of manufacturing and purchasing for the Americas, and Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC director of production Michael Balke, outlined the future of their respective automakers during the Auto Manufacturers Luncheon at the 2016 S.C. Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Greenville.
“Initially we’re going to hire about 2,000 people,” Fjording said of the plant being constructed in Charleston, “and normally, we say in the auto industry that the multiplier of these jobs is about four, meaning four additional jobs are created in the community for every one at Volvo, and can be as high as a multiplier of seven. It’s a lot of jobs that we can generate.”
Fjording anticipates the number of jobs to grow as the plant grows. In addition, she said Volvo initially will produce 65,000 vehicles a year with about 30,000 expected to be exported. Also, “we will take in about 65 40-foot containers of material from the port and are going to localize about 30% of the material from here,” she said.
Balke said Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC is now hiring specialists in engineering, information technology and purchasing and other professionals. Hiring for shop floor positions will begin in 2017.
“We are expanding from 130 people to close to 1,500 people. The recruiting process has already started,” Balke said. Information is available at www.readysc.org/mercedes.
The increase in the number of jobs at Mercedes Benz-Vans LLC is due to an expansion at the plant.
“Building this facility is relatively easy; the main thing is to have the right people to operate it,” he said.
Fjording stressed the need for the right people. She said Volvo “needs key talent.” She said that science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is just as important as vocational education.
“We need all kinds of workers, everything from the guy who works on the line to the Nobel Prize winner,” Fjording said. We need it all … maintenance engineers, software engineers, basic technical skills.”
Volvo’s first S60 sedan is anticipated to roll off production lines in late 2018 at the Berkeley County site, the only facility in the world that will produce the new model. The automotive campus is under construction in the Camp Hall Commerce Park near Ridgeville.
Fjording complimented local and state officials for their cooperation and work during and after the flooding that hit the state in 2015.
“I have to say, our executives and our board were terrified when they heard about this flood, for obvious reasons, the loss of lives and the impact on the area, but also about how the start of construction would be impacted, and I have to say that I think this community handled this beautifully,” she said. “I don’t see how it could’ve been done much better. We lost very little time in terms of the handover of the site to us.
“We’ve had some awesome cooperation between the state, county, cities and local community and our company, and I’m looking forward to that cooperation continuing,” she said.
Reach Teresa Cutlip at 864-235-5677, ext. 103, or @SCBizTeresa on Twitter.