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07/01/2010

Allevard-Sogefi Dedicates Plant

Allevard-Sogefi USA Inc. cut the ribbon Wednesday on its new $7 million filter system plant, the Italian company's first filter system plant in North America. Ground was broken about two years ago for the plant, which at the time was an operation that Sogefi would run in conjunction with a plant that made stabilizing bars used in suspension systems. The plant that makes stabilizing bars has since ceased operations, but Sogefi moved forward in constructing its new filter plant, allowing it to retain jobs and prepare to meet future needs of the industry.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin joined Emanuele Bosio, CEO of Sogefi Group, Troy Thomas, Prichard plant manager, and Marc Sprouse, HADCO President in celebrating the transition from stabilizer bar production to automotive filters. “The recession hit the automotive industry particularly hard," Manchin said. "Mr. Bosio made a courageous decision to stay in West Virginia. He's had to sell this to his Board of Directors to stay in the North American market, and I say thank you."

Bosio said he remains optimistic, and Sogefi, which has operations around the globe, is pursuing new, greener technologies. The new filter system production in West Virginia is part of a growth strategy for the North American market, he said.

"The technological change currently under way in the U.S. toward more eco-compatible vehicles with lower consumption could benefit European producers like Sogefi, who has already developed and built the necessary components in its domestic markets," Bosio said in the release. "In 2011, when the plant is fully up and running, we expect to have revenues in the United States of more than $20 million, an objective we may have to revise upward if the negotiations in progress with domestic manufacturers should lead to new orders."

“This high-tech facility represents a significant capital investment in Wayne County, WV,” states Marc Sprouse, HADCO President. “It is an example of 21st century manufacturing at its best, and highlights the precision standards required of today’s workforce. We commend Sogefi for their continued commitment to West Virginia and the jobs this new facility will bring”.

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority helped in financing $4.6 million in new equipment for the filter system plant, said WVEDA’s executive director, David Warner.

The new plant is 32,000-sf and equipped to manufacture filters and modules for Ford, Nissan, BMW, Chrysler and Mazda. The line expansion is expected to increase the plant's number of employees from the current level of 44 up to 65 by the end of 2011. But plant manager Troy Thomas said he hopes to start adding more workers near the end of the year, when it starts gearing up its production for Chrysler.

Allevard Springs, a French company owned by Sogefi, kicked off operations in Prichard about six years ago after HADCO, the Wayne County Commission and the WVEDA invested in a shell building in Prichard. The $27 million investment included buying the 50,000-sf building and expanding it to a total of 215,000-sf.

Sogefi employs approximately 6,000 people worldwide, and has a global presence in four continents and 13 countries. With 50 offices, of which 39 are production plants, Sogefi has a consolidated sales volume of over $1.6 billion.

(Excerpts from the Herald-Dispatch, 7/1/10, Jean Tarbett-Hardiman)