Frankfort, KY (STL.News) Gov. Andy Beshear announced semi-trailer and equipment manufacturer Fruehauf Inc. plans to locate its first U.S. facility in nearly 25 years in Bowling Green with a $12 million investment expected to create 288 full-time jobs in the years ahead.
“The nearly 300 jobs to be created through this project will greatly benefit families in South Central Kentucky as we continue to attract quality opportunities for our people across the state as we sprint out of this pandemic,” Gov. Beshear said. “I am proud to welcome Fruehauf to the commonwealth as we build on our already diverse base of automotive-related companies in Kentucky.”
The new dry van trailer manufacturing operation will locate in an unfinished spec building in Bowling Green’s Kentucky Transpark. The new location will allow the company to better serve its customers in the U.S. and Canada with components primarily manufactured offsite and assembled at the new location. Fruehauf’s production operations are currently located exclusively in Mexico, having closed its U.S. facilities in 1997.
“We are excited to have our U.S. plant investment here in Bowling Green. We have chosen a community with a strong automotive heritage, something we believe our founder, August Fruehauf, would appreciate given the central role he played in the development of the automotive industry and his later induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame,” said Tom Wiseman, president of Fruehauf USA and Canada.
Fruehauf has a history of manufacturing transportation products dating back to the company’s founding in Detroit, Michigan, in 1890. Its founder, Fruehauf, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2017 as the inventor of the semi-trailer. In addition to semi-trailers, the company’s related products include dollies, platforms, container chassis, tanks, hoppers and turns. Fruehauf is a subsidiary of the Fultra Group, a diversified manufacturing company based in Mexico.
Fruehauf adds to Kentucky’s existing presence of Mexican-owned operations, which includes nine facilities employing more than 3,400 people in the state.
Since 2020, auto-related companies in Kentucky announced nearly 40 new location and expansion projects expected to create 1,500-plus full-time jobs with over $360 million in announced investment. More than 525 automotive suppliers and four automotive assembly plants currently operate in the commonwealth, employing over 100,000 Kentucky residents.
Fruehauf’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger following the effects of the pandemic.
Last week, Gov. Beshear announced Kentucky’s year-to-date private-sector new location and expansion figures, which include over $2 billion in total planned investment and the creation of 4,000-plus full-time jobs in the coming years.
Just in the past month, Gov. Beshear has announced location and expansion projects from: MAB Fabrication (Walton, Kentucky; 24 full-time jobs; $6.9 million investment); OnPoint Warranty Solutions (Louisville, Kentucky; 104 full-time jobs; $900,000 investment); Jackson Purchase Distillery (Hickman, Kentucky; 30 full-time jobs; $8.76 million investment); Kruger Packaging (Elizabethtown, Kentucky; 150 full-time jobs; $114.2 million investment); Wieland North America (Shelbyville, Kentucky; 75 full-time jobs; $100 million investment); and Firestone Industrial Products (Williamsburg, Kentucky; 250 full-time jobs; $50 million investment). Through May, Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage is $23.15 before benefits, a 4.7% increase over the previous year.
Last month, Moody’s Analytics published a positive economic outlook for Kentucky, noting mass vaccination as the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services. The state’s recovery, Moody’s said, benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services. The report also found Kentucky’s manufacturing industry outperformed the nation’s since the national downturn last year.
Fitch Ratings last month improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery. The state’s April sales tax receipts set an all-time monthly record at $486.5 million, as did vehicle usage tax receipts at over $64 million.
In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million. Site Selection also recently placed Kentucky in a tie for fifth in its 2021 Prosperity Cup rankings, positioning the state among the national leaders for business climate.
Warren County Judge/Executive Mike Buchanon welcomed Fruehauf to the region’s growing automotive industry.
“Fruehauf is the founder of semi-trailers and known the world over for their longstanding contribution to the automotive industry. We are delighted that they have chosen us for the site of their first U.S. manufacturing plant in 25 years,” Judge/Executive Buchanon said. “They will be joining a group of growing manufacturers in the Kentucky Transpark. Warren County has proven to be the ideal location to grow a company, and we are confident in our ability to support their growth.”
Bowling Green Mayor Todd Alcott said the company’s new location will have a positive impact throughout the community.
“By investing in Bowling Green, Fruehauf is creating additional opportunities for all of the businesses in our community,” Mayor Alcott said. “The impact of their investment will be felt by local retailers, restaurants, banks, service providers and more. Within our community, we understand that we all rise together, and this inspires our pro-growth mindset.”
Ron Bunch, president and CEO of Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, said Warren County has everything Fruehauf needs to succeed in its new venture.
“The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce worked with Fruehauf to ensure that everything they needed in a site could be found in Bowling Green. Our recent infrastructure investments, central U.S. location and workforce played a key role in their decision to locate in the Transpark,” Bunch said. “The chamber is on hand to continue providing the support Fruehauf will need as they begin operating in our community.”
John Bradley, senior vice president of economic development at the Tennessee Valley Authority, noted the company’s significant job creation through the project.
“TVA and Warren RECC congratulate Fruehauf on its decision to locate operations and create hundreds of job opportunities in Bowling Green. Helping to foster job creation and investment in the Valley is fundamental to TVA’s mission of service,” Bradley said. “We are proud to partner with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce to help further that mission and celebrate this announcement.”
Dewayne McDonald, president and CEO of Warren RECC, said he looks forward to working with the company.
“We are excited to welcome Fruehauf to the Kentucky Transpark and look forward to serving them as a Warren RECC member,” McDonald said.
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in May preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $4 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $12 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 288 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $21 including benefits across those jobs.
- By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, Fruehauf can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.