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EXCLUSIVE:SMART Alabama Hyundai Supplier Finishes Expansion, Hope To Launch Next Expansion Fall 2013
In Luverne, one Hyundai supplier has finished it's third expansion in less than six years and plant managers tell us they plan to get even bigger in the near future...
SMART Alabama has recently wrapped up an expansion, where they've put in a new addition to the plant. And they're not stopping there... in a few months, they'll have another expansion.
Crenshaw County's biggest manufacturing employer is getting even bigger. SMART Alabama is one of Hyundai's stamping and body assembly suppliers and it's just finished a 30,000 square foot addition to the plant.
It's about a $1.5 million investment. and with the recent news of record sales for Hyundai, General Manager of Administration for SMART, Gary Sport, says they had to keep up with demand.
"Three years ago this time we were producing around 270,000 vehicles a year and this year Hyundai is asking us to produce 388,000 vehicles," Said Sport.
Which is why SMART has added a 1,500 ton stamping press, used to stamp out body parts.
It's one of four in the plant and it's brought 50 new jobs to the plant floor.
As equipment is moved into the new part of the building, there's already talk about new additions to SMART. Sport says they hope to launch another expansion this fall, where they'll set up a new model Sonota line.
The company currently has 383 robots. They'll add about another 100. Plant managers say they're also discussing storage space expansion.
"All of the equipment would be removed from that area and it would just be an open space, so that going forward when the Elantra line changes model, styles and make, then we would set up the new equipment there for the Elantra and then pull out the other equipment and create another space," Said Sport, who told us that could bring another 20 to 30 jobs.
Luverne Mayor, Joe Sport, says Luverne without a SMART plant would be a very different city.
"Without SMART, we would be like so many small towns in south Alabama, you know, where the revenue sources have dried up because there are no jobs in the community," Said Sport.
Plant managers say they hope to have the expansion up and running by early 2014.
SMART currently employs about 700 people.