A Rosenfeld, Germany-based manufacturer of industrial wheels and casters for everything from bakery racks to baggage carousels has rolled out production in the United States through its subsidiary Blickle USA.
The daughter company of Blickle Räder+Rollen GmbH u. Co. KG recently completed construction of 55,000 square feet of business space in Newnan, Ga., where a 19-acre site was selected for the U.S. headquarters in 2016.
Blickle has a multiphase plan to develop the industrial park parcel and it could eventually house about 200,000 square feet of sales, manufacturing, engineering, laboratory and warehouse operations for plastic, rubber, polyurethane and steel wheels and casters. The products make it easy to move a variety of goods like hospital beds, floor waxing machines, theater stage scaffolding, forklifts, automotive equipment, and conveyor belts.
Founded in 1953, the privately held company marked the grand opening of Blickle USA near Atlanta on Sept. 14 with local officials and customers, which include distributors, integrated suppliers, catalog houses and original equipment manufacturers.
"Within phase one are the corporate offices for Blickle U.S., a product training center for educating and certifying channel customers; a one-of-a-kind customer experience center to test and determine the optimal ergonomic material handling solution; assembly and warehousing; and a machining center for the customization of casters and wheels," Blickle USA President Scott Chahalis said in a phone interview.
The subsidiary previously had a small sales office in Charlotte, N.C., and leased a warehouse in Georgia but now all business functions are consolidated in company-owned facilities at the Newnan HQ. While the only manufacturing currently underway is at the machining center, Blickle officials are planning to ramp up production.
"Further room for expanding an additional 150,000 square feet is allocated for phases two to four. What we will manufacture in those future phases is being carefully planned now," Chahalis said.
Blickle produces more than 30,000 items in various dimensions and materials, including nylon and polypropylene wheels and synthetic casters. Until now, all Blickle-branded products were manufactured in Germany at the Rosenfeld facility, which is more than 1 million square feet. The company says it is the world's single largest wheel and caster plant.
Blickle ships about 50,000 products a day to mostly OEMs and distributors but it also offers direct sales. Company officials expect the U.S. campus will improve the logistics of getting products to existing customers while attracting new ones.
"We've been here but with a small presence," Chahlis said. "Having a manufacturing facility and offices in the U.S. shows customers we're here permanently and it means they don't have to wait for a product to come from Germany."
About 550 of Blickle's 800 employees work in Germany. The company also has sales agents in 120 countries. So far, the U.S. site has 27 employees.
Chahalis said he couldn't comment on how much Blickle has invested in the U.S. headquarters to date or what it expects to invest overall. But he did say the number of new hires could exceed 100 people after the next expansion phases.
In December 2016, Blickle agreed to create at least 25 jobs and invest at least $8 million in the first phase, which at that time was described only as building and equipping office and warehouse space, according to an economic development agreement with the Coweta County Commission.
Blickle is a third-generation family owned business founded in 1953 by Heinrich Blickle, who started out making iron wheelbarrow wheels before expanding into a range of wheel products and swivel and fixed casters. After his death in 1961, his wife, Elisabeth Blickle, took over as managing director. Their son, Reinhold Blickle, runs the company as an executive partner with his wife, Denise Blickle, and Walter Wager, another managing director who has been with the business since 1974.