President and CEO Franco Rossi said during the press conference at the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce the investment would add up to 100 jobs, an increase from the 50 jobs the expansion was originally predicted to create. Rossi added the company had already hired 25 new employees and the expansion has yet to get underway.
“I’m very proud to announce today that we have decided to make this further round of investment of Cartersville once again, which has become, how you would say, Aquafil’s hometown, and it has been since 1999 and is still going to be for the next several years, I hope,” Rossi said during his remarks to the gathering of city, county and state officials.
In addition to the main facility’s expansion, Aquafil is going to add a second production facility on Friction Drive. Rossi said the company will refurbish a building once used by Bosch to manufacture car parts. The refurbishment, he believed, could be done by June. Hiring for the new positions, Rossi said after his remarks, will likely end sometime in the summer.
“By no means [do] we believe this is going to be the end, but rather this is one more step, and I hope that there will be many other Friday afternoons where we can all convene here and celebrate the next expansion ... of our business,” Rossi said.
Aquafil’s current employment, CFO Mike Abernathy said, is approximately 275. The expansion, Rossi believed, would move the total number of employees to almost 400. The levels of growth Aquafil has experienced in the past 15 years is something Rossi said he did not expect when the Italian company first came to Cartersville and Bartow County.
“Honestly not. I mean, and it’s not just the 50 percent expansion that we are having now. Aquafil USA went through several rounds of expansions — the most important one actually was the first step when we started to actually manufacture fibers, and that was in 2006,” Rossi said. “Until the 2006 [expansion], we had only been importing fibers from Europe. ... Since then I believe this is the fourth round of expansion where we added lines and other lines and other capacity.
“But, this is from a very personal standpoint, when I came here in 1999 I really did not think in 15 years after we are here talking about a company which will soon have close to 400 employees and we will turnover, which would be close to $150 million. It was really not in my wildest dreams. As I mentioned during my brief speech: we came here, we had nothing. There was a small lease facility, 15,000 square feet in something like a garage. It was me and another gentleman and a lady and that was it. So, I mean, how could I have imagined 15 years after I would have been here talking to you and announcing an expansion and thinking about a future one?”
Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini, Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor and Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Corbin all spoke on the expansion as well, with each thanking Aquafil for its investment in the community.
“I can tell you when I became mayor in 2008, one of the first companies that I went to visit was Aquafil and I was — I didn’t have anything else to compare it to, but now that I’ve been to other places, and not to talk bad about other places — but I can tell you the operation there is one of the most fascinating that I’ve had the opportunity to see. ... We are so fortunate to have them as part of our family of industries here in Bartow County,” Santini said.
Taylor took the opportunity to thank the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development for its work in landing the Aquafil expansion.
“We have the best economic development team in the state. ... Melinda [Lemmon], Rachel [Rowell] and Connie [Salter], they are so great in this, just so easy to work with, these folks,” he said. “Matt and I get our pictures in the paper, but these are the folks that really do the work and need all the credit, because they really do a great job and we couldn’t do it without them.”
After the announcement, Lemmon, executive director of the economic development department, said the economic development authorities in the county and Rowell’s role as existing industries director have a large impact on the community gaining corporate expansions and the resulting jobs.
“I think it’s very important, especially what Rachel does as the existing industries director is paying dividends for our community,” Lemmon said. “This is a very special kind of marketing. It’s a relationship-based marketing and when we’re there with these companies, to call on them, to say, ‘How are you doing? Is there anything we can do, anything for you as a community support system?’ That’s when they ... pick up the phone to bring us in when there’s a growth opportunity or — maybe even more importantly — sometimes a retention opportunity.
“So I think it’s critically important. Where most of our jobs come from are these existing [industries] and so when these development authorities and our staff reach out to the companies I think that makes a difference.”