It’s understandable that when you think about manufacturing in Rutherford County, the first company that comes to mind is Nissan, the automaker that has produced more than 12 million vehicles in Smyrna. But the county has a long relationship with many other manufacturers, several with famous names.
Among the growing number of manufacturers making Rutherford County their business address of choice are Bridgestone Americas, which makes tires in La Vergne and employs more than 1,000 people; General Mills, which produces food products in Murfreesboro; and Schwan Cosmetics, which moved its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing operations to Murfreesboro.
Manufacturing is a key industry sector in Rutherford County, accounting for nearly 25,000 jobs. The county has added nearly 3,000 manufacturing jobs since 2012.
“The advantages Rutherford County has for manufacturers include a strong workforce with support through educational opportunities at Motlow State Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology and Middle Tennessee State University, and, with its proximity to three interstate systems, an ideal location for product distribution,” says Brian Hercules, senior vice president of economic development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.
Large manufacturers with operation in Rutherford County include Schneider Electric, a global energy management company with 900 employees in Smyrna, vehicle component maker Kasai North America and Asurion, a refurbisher of electronic devices, which employs 1,250 people in Smyrna.
Murfreesboro-based manufacturers also include Adient, Daiei America, NHK, Heritage Dairies, Rich Products and Mahle. Smyrna, in addition to Nissan, is home to Topre America, Steel Technologies, Taylor Farms and Valeo. La Vergne, in addition to Bridgestone Americas, has operations of Ingram Industries, McKesson Chemical and Cardinal Health, says Hercules.
Vi-Jon, which produces private brand products for major retailers, including personal care, household and institutional cleaning, bath and health care products, has a longstanding operation in Smyrna. The company also produces branded products including its Germ-X hand sanitizer.
Not every manufacturer has a household name, but their economic influence is felt throughout Rutherford County and continues to grow.
Franke Foodservice Systems, which has produced food equipment in Smyrna since 2009, announced an $11.6 million expansion that will create 67 new jobs. Franke Foodservice Systems is part of the Swiss-based Franke Group, a leading provider of comprehensive systems and services for the global foodservice industry. The company employs more than 1,200 associates worldwide and manufactures and distributes a wide variety of kitchen equipment and supplies from a number of facilities in the United States, Europe and Asia.
“We’re excited to be expanding our capacity in our Smyrna location, where the outstanding workforce and strategic location have played a huge role in serving our customers and growing our business,” says Foodservice Systems President and CEO Thomas Campion.
Driven by Technology
With its central Southeastern location and quick access to national and international markets, Rutherford County has developed a technology-driven manufacturing sector across a broad range of industries. The unparalleled quality of life the region offers, with highly regarded schools, higher education opportunities including MTSU and Motlow State Community College and outdoor recreation, makes it easy to attract and keep top talent.
In Smyrna, where Nissan has produced vehicles since 1983, the company makes six models including Altima, LEAF, Maxima, Pathfinder, Rogue and the INFINITI QX60. It has an annual production capacity of 640,000 vehicles.
The all-electric LEAF uses advance battery technology to extend its range to 150 miles on a single charge. Nissan announced the addition of more than 26,000 square feet to the LEAF electric car battery plant in Smyrna.
"We're committed to vehicle electrification and manufacturing in the United States," says Jeff Younginer, vice president of manufacturing at the Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant.
Nissan suppliers are a major source of capital investment and job creation. Topre America Inc., which produces automotive stamping and body assemblies, announced the investment of $37.8 million in its Smyrna facility. The expansion is creating 50 jobs.
The sectors attracting the most investment and creating the most jobs in Rutherford County are white collar jobs, logistics and advanced manufacturing, says Hercules.
“Strong relationships with local government, the Rutherford County Industrial Development Board, Tennessee Valley Authority and State of Tennessee give us the advantage of a streamlined approval process and the ability for everyone to work together for the betterment of our community,” he says.