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Archive for October, 2011

Industry Profile: BorgWarner

BorgWarner Inc. is a product leader in highly engineered components and systems for vehicle powertrain applications worldwide. Customers include VW/Audi, Ford, Toyota, Renault/Nissan, General Motors, Hyundai/Kia, Daimler, Chrysler, Fiat, BMW, Honda, John Deere, PSA, and MAN. While the company operates manufacturing and technical facilities in 19 countries worldwide, Western North Carolina continues to play a critical role in the company’s domestic design and manufacturing capabilities. In fact, WNC is home to two separate divisions, each responsible for different product lines. Henderson County is fortunate to serve as the location for the operation’s thermal division. BorgWarner Thermal is a leading supplier of components and systems for thermal management, which are specifically designed to improve engine cooling, increase fuel economy and reduce emissions. The division is located in the Town of Fletcher and encompasses 50 acres and nearly 200,000 square feet of production space adjacent to Wilsonart International and Diamond Brand Manufacturing.

Since 2008, the automotive industry as a whole has witnessed incredible amounts of change. As the nation struggled to rebound from recessionary economic conditions, the automotive industry was dramatically altered. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), like BorgWarner, were impacted by uncertain markets. Changes in the industry forced OEM operations to move quickly to keep ahead of market trends and ongoing federal legislation aimed at new product development and design initiatives. According to Steve Racher, plant manager of the Fletcher division, “the Company’s focus on developing the latest engine technology developments and keeping pace with regulatory mandates is the driving force behind BorgWarner’s ability to retain its leadership role in the automotive industry.” The company’s engineering staff work tirelessly to develop new technologies and products that are tightly aligned to processes adopted by the world’s leading automotive companies.

BorgWarner, and especially the Fletcher facility, represent a critical piece of the company’s global presence. The business’ affinity with the community can be tied to the vast number of resources which can be found locally. According to Racher: “Henderson County possesses a professional and motivated workforce, reasonable tax rates, and excellent access to nearby transportation routes allowing the operation to efficiently ship and receive product from regions across the globe.  Moreover, because BorgWarner places a heavy emphasis on identifying advanced manufacturing practices and professional manufacturing certifications such as ISO 9001, TS/ISO 16949: 2002, ISO 14001, the facility has greatly benefited from the North Carolina Community College System and more specifically Blue Ridge Community College.

To date, BorgWarner continues to play a lead role in the development of technologies and product lines which are specifically designed to meet customer demands for vehicles which possess improved full economy standards and performance specifications. Employees in Fletcher are responsible for designing and assembling some of the most advanced automotive systems in the world. The engineered cooling fans produced in Fletcher are used in a variety of applications for commercial, light, and off-highway vehicles. BorgWarner continues to design more efficient products, utilize fewer moving parts that require less maintenance and weigh less. Combined, the fan systems produced in Fletcher can deliver 1-3% improved fuel economy while simultaneously increasing vehicle performance.  As a result those parts produced locally, in Fletcher, North Carolina, can be found across the globe and in some of the most recognizable automotive brands around the world.

Last Call for the Annual Dinner

On October 27th, over 150 manufacturing, business and government leaders will take part in the eighth annual Industrial Appreciation Banquet. The dinner will be held at the Virginia Boone Building at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, with a pre-dinner reception held at the Davis Event Center. The Partnership will honor outgoing Board members, the 2010-11 Partner of the Year, and present an update on legislative matters and performance metrics within the organization.

Generous sponsorships allow manufacturers, members and elected officials to attend at no cost. 2011 Presenting Sponsors are Duke Energy, Forest Commercial Bank and PSNC Energy. Supporting Sponsors are First Citizens Bank, Friday Staffing Services, GE Lighting Solutions, IMOCO, Van Winkle Law Firm and Pepsi. For more information contact the office at 828-692-6373 or e-mail brittany@hcped.org.

Automotive Industry: A Driving Force

The Lockwood Greene Master Economic Development Plan for Henderson County was completed in 2002, providing guidance to the organization and a plan for public and private partners. As previously reported, the plan included a labor study, marketing plan, target industry analysis and competitive assessment.  The target market analysis identified business sectors likely to flourish in our community, and examined why some sectors are or are not an ideal fit with existing assets.  The report identified 8 primary and 4 secondary clusters including plastics, automotive components, medical products, recreational sporting goods, and machinery manufacturing.  The Partnership has focused on these targets from an external marketing effort, as well as supporting core programs of work designed to enhance and facilitate networking opportunities among existing manufacturing operations.

One of the largest and most substantial manufacturing clusters in Henderson County is the automotive sector. Existing companies such as API South, Blue Ridge Metals, BorgWarner, Continental, Elkamet, KLB Racing, Kyocera, Meritor, Ohlins, Prince Manufacturing, Selee, and Skyline Plastics serve as a strong reminders of how Henderson County companies contribute to the global automotive industry while concurrently supporting local employment opportunities.  Together, companies in Henderson County involved in the automotive sector account for over 1,600 jobs, or nearly 28% of the community’s manufacturing labor force.

Through the years, the Partnership has maintained marketing attention on the automotive industry. In August, Josh Hallingse, Director of Industry Relations traveled to Detroit, MI to meet with automotive component executives. This trip allowed the Partnership to maintain and build ongoing relationships with Henderson County automotive companies headquartered in the Midwest, while simultaneously reaching out to companies that have expressed an interest in expanding their manufacturing presence to North Carolina.


Henderson County’s location is one key factor in attracting automotive companies. Henderson County provides ease of access to I-26, I-40, I-85, I-81 and I-77 allowing most major markets to be reached in one day. Sitting just over the state line from major auto makers such as BMW and Volkswagen, allows for companies to actively engage with major companies as well as work with contributing suppliers. North Carolina is a top rated manufacturing state as well as a right-to-work state creating a favorable business climate for companies looking to do business with auto makers in the southeast. In addition to access advantages, companies considering WNC are also met with numerous manufacturing training assets, many of which have a focus on needs specific to the automotive sector. Assets include Western Carolina University’s Center for Rapid Product Realization, the Clemson University ICAR Campus and Blue Ridge Community College.

In addition to marketing trips, the Partnership has an active campaign calendar to reach out to targeted industry sectors. In the process, HCPED keeps an eye on major manufacturers and their suppliers. By creatively introducing targeted companies to the manufacturing potential and access of Henderson County, the goal is to attract more automotive component companies and facilitate the creation of quality job opportunities for our citizens.