Location, cost advantage, workforce drive Maury County's manufacturing sector
Maury County offers a wealth of advantages for technology-driven manufacturing, including a large base of skilled workers, a location within a day’s drive of major East Coast and Midwest markets and an inventory of sites and buildings.
The presence of a General Motors assembly plant has driven growth in automotive-related manufacturing, but Maury County is also drawing investment in other areas, such as high performance ceramics.
GM’s Spring Hill Manufacturing complex, an assembly plant employing more than 3,300 workers, produces the Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia full-size crossover vehicles along with 4-cylinder and 8-cylinder engines.
“Along with GM, there are more than 80 advanced manufacturing companies in Maury County employing about 5,000 total workers,” says Travis Groth, director of economic development for the Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance. “Many people might not know how large and important the manufacturing industry is in Maury County.”
Groth says Maury County offers manufacturers and their distributors an ideal location, with rail accessibility, I-65 running through the county and proximity to I-840, I-24 and I-40. Also serving companies are four-lane roads like U.S. Highway 31 and U.S. Highway 412.
Part of the Nashville Metropolitan Statisitical Area, Maury County is one hour from downtown Nashville and Nashville International Airport. The recent announcement of a planned Toyota Mazda manufacturing plant in Huntsville, 90 minutes south on I-65 from Maury County, could create new opportunities for automotive suppliers that have come to the region.
Maury County features four industrial parks and a supply of existing buildings. In addition to its location advantage, Groth adds that Maury County offers reasonable land and wage prices.
“We are affordable for companies to make a capital investment, and we are also affordable for production employees to own a home in the county and have a good quality of life,” he says.
RAE of Sunshine
Its advantages have helped draw new investment and jobs, including the recent opening of Landmark Ceramics, an $85 million, 600,000-square-foot porcelain tile manufacturing facility in Mt. Pleasant.
Also choosing Mt. Pleasant is Doug Jeffords Company, a spices and seasonings producer that moved into that city’s Cherry Glen Industrial Park.
Another Mt. Pleasant company is Smelter Service Corp., which has provided aluminum recycling services since 1978.
RAE Products, a manufacturing company, came to Mt. Pleasant from Nashville in 2014. The company focuses on heavy inner cores for large rolls of plastics, nonwoven fabrics, paper mills and composite/specialty materials.
“We have some pretty innovative equipment and unique processes that help differentiate us in our industry,” says Todd Essig, RAE Products vice president of business development.
Essig says the company Maury County’s availability, affordability and accessibility give it an advantage.
“In 2013, we found ourselves having totally outgrown our industrial park in Nashville, and it was time to purchase a facility,” he says. “We were able to acquire a 100,000-square-foot facility on a 9-acre campus in Mt. Pleasant for a fraction of what it would cost in other areas. Nobody misses the traffic, and Mt. Pleasant and downtown Columbia have such a cool vibe.”
Manufacturing Works in Maury
One of the longest tenured companies doing business in Maury County is Columbia Machine Works, a family-owned business founded in 1927 that provides a range of machining and fabrication services.
“A big part of the business is sending our technician crews all over the Southeast and beyond to companies that need to diagnose problems and repair industrial equipment used to manufacture their parts and products,” says John Langsdon, owner and CEO of Columbia Machine Works. “We have highly skilled employees and have 500 to 600 long-term customers, and we continue to grow.”
Besides repairing equipment, the company also has huge onsite machines to make parts that most companies can’t produce.
“We are also a full fabrication facility, and our biggest market is building parts and equipment for large tanker barges that move petrochemicals and oil on rivers throughout the U.S.,” Langsdon says. “We are a very diverse company.”
Langsdon, born and raised in Maury County, says it’s been a good place to run a successful manufacturing business.
“There are many top industrial-support businesses, so anything I need industrial-wise I can get locally,” he says. “Plus driving to work in only 10 minutes is really nice.”