China-based Tech-Long Packaging Machinery Co. Ltd. is moving its North America headquarters from the West Coast to the Atlanta area for a bigger presence.
Tech-Long (USA) Inc. is investing $5 million in a new parts and service base in Duluth, Ga. Tech-Long Americas CEO Keith Boss said he plans to create 130 jobs over 10 years and eventually expand into machine parts manufacturing.
The 25,000-square-foot facility will initially house two machines for demonstration and training purposes: a Unique-brand PET preform injection molding machine and a Tech-Long G5 blow molder with the ability to hot-fill and cold-fill.
Boss, who joined Tech-Long in January to help bolster the company's North America business, said he's also looking at possibly installing a one-gallon water bottle line.
“It's still in the works at the moment, we haven't finalized on that,” he said in a phone interview.
Boss sees the need for local production of machine components.
“In order to be able to continue to expand in the U.S. market, I believe we are going to have to manufacture some components of our machinery near our customer base here. We can't wait for a lot of our components to come all the way over from China,” he said.
“If you start looking at electrical cabinets, for example, they need to be UL-certified. Tech-Long sources many electrical parts from the U.S. and ships them to China. To ship [the finished electrical cabinets from China] back to the U.S. doesn't make a lot of sense. It's a lot of shipping cost we can cut out.”
In addition, Tech-Long plans to offer mold making and repair services locally.
“You'll see us eventually be manufacturing molds in the U.S. for our machines and repairing molds as well, to better service our customers,” Boss said.
Tech-Long built its first foothold in North America in December 2011 with a 10,000-square-foot headquarters office in Commerce, Calif. The move to Atlanta more than doubles the space but also offers other benefits.
“We picked Atlanta mainly because of its airport and access to all of the country as well as to Latin America and the Caribbean, which we are also responsible for,” Boss said. “There's a lot of direct flights out of Atlanta to get to those markets quickly, both for people, [such as] when we need to send technicians to those countries, and also for spare parts, which is critical.
“It's a very good logistic center as well,” he added, “And it's becoming a bit of a packaging hub, I'd say. There's a lot of [packaging] companies here, what that means is a lot of talent as well.”
Boss said local officials of Gwinnett County have been “really supportive and efficient” in facilitating the expansion. A group of five officials visited Tech-Long's headquarters in Guangzhou on Aug. 24.
Tech-Long is planning a grand opening for the Atlanta site in late December.