HAMLET — Six years after opening, one Richmond County manufacturing plant is about to double in size.
Company, local and state officials announced Tuesday that American Woodmark will be expanding its plant in the Richmond County Industrial Park, south of Hamlet, for a total of 600,000 square feet of manufacturing space — making it one of the largest sites in the region.
American Woodmark President and CEO Scott Culbreth said the company’s strategy is based on growth, digital transformation and platform design.
“After a comprehensive review of our platform, we identified the need for additional capacity in our stock kitchen and bath cabinetry platform,” Culbreth said. By expanding in the United States, we will strengthen our overall supply chain and allow for incremental capacity in both categories on the east coast, which is one of the largest repair/remodel and new construction markets.”
According to Economic Developer Martie Butler, American Woodmark plans to invest $40 million in the facility, which includes adding 131 new jobs to its current roster of more than 200.
“American Woodmark’s presence in the community is already great with nearly 250 team members from the surrounding area and its charity through their foundation,” said Anthony Nessell, director of operations for the Hamlet plant. “As a native of Richmond County, I am excited about what this investment means to the community and people. Our leadership looks forward to a bright future for the people in our community and for American Woodmark.”
(Disclosure: RO co-publisher Charlie Melvin is an employee of American Woodmark.)
Earlier in the day, the state’s Economic Investment Committee approved a Job Development Investment Grant.
According to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office, the agreement authorizes the potential reimbursement to the company of up to $1,086,000 over the next 12 years. That number is based on a formula using tax revenues based on the new jobs and a $36.2 million capital investment.
“Strong rural communities like Hamlet provide manufacturing companies a great environment for expansion and growth,” Cooper said in a statement. “From our skilled workforce to our superior transportation network, American Woodmark knows North Carolina well and their decision shows that we have the right ingredients for success.”
The average salary for the new jobs, according to the governor’s office, will be $44,748, — more than $6,000 above the county’s current average wage of $38,035.
“Job creation is still all about the fundamentals, and our county’s fundamentals are strong,” Jeff Smart, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, said in a statement. “They include affordable costs, available sites and buildings, and close proximity to major consumer markets.”
The cabinet-making facility was originally built by RSI Home Products in 2016 and went from groundbreaking to opening in less than a year.
American Woodmark merged with RSI in 2017.
“Richmond County is fast becoming the envy of rural counties in (North Carolina, and we are pleased to welcome the expansion of American Woodmark,” Commissioner Rick Watkins said in a press release. “This announcement represents a major commitment by American Woodmark in expansion dollars and job creation.
“Richmond County has forged solid relationships with the N.C. Department of Commerce, and we are pleased to partner with them in a project of this magnitude,” Watkins continued. “With a focus on economic development, building infrastructure and education, Richmond County has positioned itself as a serious contender for continued business growth and expansion.”
Key partners in the project include the N.C. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Partnership of N.C., the North Carolina General Assembly and the North Carolina Community College System.
“There’s no better endorsement for the state’s business climate than when an existing industry chooses to expand in North Carolina,” said Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Moore, a Richmond County native. “We’re proud that American Woodmark is bringing new jobs and investment to Hamlet, to Richmond County, and to the people of our region.”
The American Woodmark expansion isn’t the only one for 2022.
Earlier this month, Cavco Industries took over operations at the VBC Manufacturing facility next door in the industrial park and plans to add more jobs as homebuilding production expands.
Last month, Impact Plastics announced a five-year, $13 million expansion, adding a 50,000-square-foot facility next to its main location on County Home Road north of Hamlet. That expansion is also expected to bring new jobs.
In January, Mount Vernon Mills acquired the Wade Manufacturing plant in Rockingham, with plans to recruit 40 employees.
“We’re having a solid year,” said Richmond County Manager Bryan Land. “The success we’re seeing in our job growth efforts is the result of a strong spirit of collaboration that exists in Richmond County — from the terrific customer service companies get from our economic development program to the excellent workforce training they receive from Richmond County Schools and Richmond Community College.”
The county is also currently in the process of constructing a 40,000 square-foot shell building in the same industrial park that is home to American Woodmark, Cavco and Laticrete.
This will make the county’s sixth.
The first four shell buildings are occupied by General Glass, CAI Inks, Latham Pool and Piedmont Natural Gas — all in the Rockingham West Industrial Park. The fifth houses Impact Plastics’ secondary facility.
“North Carolina’s rural workforce keeps companies like American Woodmark a step ahead,” North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said in a statement. “As our First in Talent strategic plan for economic development makes clear, North Carolina will continue to provide our workers with the education and training they need to support manufacturers in our state.”