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German co. cuts ribbon on Pickens County facility
German company cuts ribbon on Pickens County facility

German company cuts ribbon on Pickens County facility

German company cuts ribbon on Pickens County facility

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Posted on June 29, 2017

By Greg Oliver

The Journal

PICKENS COUNTY — More than 13 months after announcing the move of their North American headquarters to Pickens County, officials with Germany based era-contact USA officially cut the ribbon for their new facility Wednesday.

Company officials cut the ribbon on era-contact’s new facility at the Pickens County Commerce Park in Liberty on Wednesday afternoon. Photos by Rex Brown | The Journal

The company is among the world market leaders in electrical railway couplings, as well as setting standards for the cable assembly and vehicle cabling sectors. Among its primary functions are manufacturing products for the transmission of signals, data and power in small spaces, with the applications used in subways, rail and automotive industries.

“We had our headquarters until last week in Newport, R.I., and moved here to South Carolina because the owners wanted to invest some money in a new building, and this is the North American headquarters,” said Jochen Kurz, CEO of era-contact parent Aichele Group. “We have eight locations worldwide in China, Turkey, Tunisia, four in Germany and now here in the U.S. We’re starting out with 15 employees, and the plan is to have 45 within the next couple of years.”

The facility is located at the Pickens County Commerce Park between U.S. Highway 123 and Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co. An investment of nearly $4 million is being made in Pickens County for the company, which was founded by Erich Aichele in 1969 and began U.S. operations in New York in 2009.

“We are excited to be here, because we love the region,” Kurz said.

Among other factors in the company’s decision to base in Pickens County were its close proximity to the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and the possibility of integrating young people from the Pickens County Career and Technology Center.

“The career and technology center came up big for us, because our philosophy is to bring younger people into the company, and we hired the first two from the CTC this week,” Kurz said. “That’s something we want to improve on in the next couple of years.”

Kurz said era-contact has 850 employees worldwide and annual sales of $100 million. He said Aichele and his wife, Christl, made the decision to invest in a new building in the U.S. in 2015 and wanted to move expeditiously.

“A decision made today means implementation tomorrow in the Aichele Group,” he said.

Alliance Pickens executive director Ray Farley recalled the handshake agreement he and Aichele entered into that brought the company to Pickens County, since a contract could not be finalized at that time. Farley said the county is fortunate to add Aichele and era-contact to other innovative companies that call the commerce park home.

“We talk a lot about innovators, or job creators — people in our county who are strong of mind, strong of hand and know how to create with their minds and hands and know how to solve problems with their minds and hands,” Farley said. “Now, we can also, in the same breath, welcome to the area Erich Aichele, who as a young man started the company in the 1960s with wife, Christl, and going from a two-person operation to one that is now No. 1 in the world in their field and chose this county — your county — to make this their North American manufacturing headquarters.”

The initial structure includes 38,000 feet, with space to eventually accommodate 90,000 square feet.

Farley also thanked Pickens County Council members for their support in the process. Overall, Farley said he feels era-contact is a good fit in Pickens County.

“We had a common denominator between their personality and mindset and the personality and mindset of the Pickens County community,” he said. “We both believe in investing in our young people — in the education and technical training of our young people. It’s reflected today in our rock star K-12 education system in Pickens County, in our technical career high school, in our Scholarship Technician program that has gained a lot of national attention. It has continued in the two students who were hired as employees — the first two from local employees who were hired right out of our technical high school.

“What we have here is working and is reflective in a number of ways.”

In wrapping up his comments to era-contact officials, Farley added, “We look forward to watching you grow and helping you grow.”

Pickens County Council chairman Roy Costner said the county is blessed to have era-contact.

“You could choose to be anywhere in the United States and you chose here,” Costner said. “This is a great place to live, learn, work and play, and I’m glad era-contact is a family business that is family focused. Welcome to the Pickens County family.”

goliver@upstatetoday.com | (864) 973-6687

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Published on 06/29/2017
Alliance Pickens
P.O. Box 149 - 1390 Smith Grove Road, Liberty, SC 29657
Phone: 864.898.1500 Fax: 864.843.5790