HAMLET — Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday made his second trip to Richmond County this month, this time to help break ground for the expansion of a local cabinet manufacturer.
American Woodmark, located in the Richmond County Industrial Park south of Hamlet, will soon start construction to double the size of its plant.
Along with the expansion will come more than 130 new jobs, according to CEO Scott Culbreth.
“It’s a big day for Hamlet,” Culbreth said, welcoming the crowd of local and state dignitaries. “This day would not have come without the dedication, hard work and many hours given by our partners of the Keith Corporation … Choate Construction, as well as our core team here at American Woodmark.
“I can’t thank you enough for the work up to this point, as well as the work yet to come.”
Culbreth said the company “performed a thorough analysis” to determine the location for its next expansion, which is the Hamlet facility.
The announcement for the expansion was made in October 2022.
Click here to read the initial expansion announcement.
American Woodmark will be adding 275,000 square feet to the building, allowing the company to increase its stock bath-kitchen capacity, Culbreth said. The expansion will also increase American Woodmark’s operations in the state by 20%.
“We’re proud to invest $20 million dollars into this particular project,” Culbreth continued, “which will contribute to the development of the communities and people here to create 131 jobs and expand our American Woodmark team.”
Jeff Smart, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, said, “I am thrilled for what this American Woodmark investment means for our community, and more especially for our people.”
“Hamlet is a mostly rural area and this planned expansion opens so many doors for the local workers to have these job opportunities right on Richmond County’s doorstep,” Smart added.
Cooper said he was excited about the announcement of bringing “more jobs to the people of Richmond County and the surrounding counties” that will “help grow the economy in this area.”
“More investment in rural North Carolina, that’s what we’re looking for,” Cooper said.
The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and N.C. Department of Commerce helped negotiate a deal that 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.
Gene McLaurin, former Rockingham mayor and state senator, is chairman of the EDPNC.
“It’s clear that the investments that we are making here in Richmond, Montgomery, Scotland, Stanly, Anson, Moore and Hoke have created hundreds of jobs,” Cooper continued. “Just recently, the Rural Infrastructure Grant — like the one for this project — shows promise of a better life in rural North Carolina and a place that businesses want to be.
The governor said that American Woodmark could have expanded any of its plants but chose Richmond County “because they know the people who live here, they know the people who do the work.”
Cooper also alluded to North Carolina recently being ranked by CNBC as the best state for business.
Click here to read about the state’s ranking.
“And it’s because of our people,” the governor said. “We’ve got a lot of people trying to take credit for it, but it’s really because of the working people in North Carolina — their skill, their training, their education.”
The American Woodmark expansion, Cooper added, is expected to grow the state’s economy by more than $185 million over the next 12 years.
Cooper added that the state plans to connect homes and businesses with high-speed internet access and fix water infrastructure, thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“And with all of that, you can get transformational change, which is what we’re looking for,” Cooper said.
The plant opened as RSI home products in 2016, only six months after the initial groundbreaking and American Woodmark merged with RSI the following year.
Rep. Ben Moss, R-Richmond, was on the Richmond County Board of Commissioners at the time.
“It’s a real big day for Richmond County,” Moss said, tipping his proverbial hat to those who made the expansion possible. “Any time that we have the governor twice within a couple of weeks — we’ve got a lot of stuff going on around this area … that’s real good news.”
Cooper was at Rockingham Speedway earlier in the month to kick of the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail.
Click here to read about the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail.
Moss echoed Cooper’s sentiment that the company could have expanded somewhere else, but chose its Hamlet plant.
“I’m very proud of that fact that they’re investing where I grew up,” Moss said. “I see a lot of people that I know that are employees and I feel very excited that we’re gonna have more employees.”
Moss also acknowledged Richmond Community College’s role in helping economic development, including providing customized training for local industries.
Culbreth said there were only 10 employees in the beginning, but that number grew to 120 by 2019. Now there are 230.
American Woodmark, one of the largest cabinet manufacturers in the nation, has more than 10,000 employees supporting more than a dozen brands with 18 manufacturing and distribution centers, according to Culbreth.
The CEO said the new building is expected to be ready by November with the first shipments going out in December. The plan is to be full-scale by March or April of 2024.
“We could not be prouder of the partnership with the state of North Carolina, Richmond County, and the local community,” Culbreth said. “We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship.”
(Disclosure: RO co-publisher Charlie Melvin is employed by American Woodmark.)