OK, we’ll just say it straight out: We are impressed.
We are impressed by the quick success of local manufacturer FerroFab Inc., a company so new to our area we hadn’t even heard of it six months ago.
And here we are today cheering on the company’s astounding accomplishment of turning out product — towering metal product — just one month after the first day it opened its doors for business.
We can’t help but hope this a preview of things to come.
The achievement was realized with the help of local government officials and a local workforce ready to learn new skills, thanks in large part to our shining community college — Richmond Community College.
In early July, metalworking company FerroFab made the announcement it was coming to Hamlet, and a month later it had produced its first product — unheard of, according to industry officials.
FerroFab is a fully-owned subsidiary of Corona Machinery Corp., an international producer of specialized fabricated metal components. Corona Machinery Corp. has affiliates in Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy.
“We have a custom fabrication shop dedicated to large-sized production, mainly in steel,” said General Manager Chris Hauer, while showing off his crew’s first order to our reporter last week.
Lee Eller, who runs industrial training for the college, said he has watched a relationship form between FerroFab and RCC in a short amount of time.
“We did have a welding background workforce, which made Hamlet a great location for them,” said Eller about FerroFab choosing a site locally. “They were ready to start production right away. Within a week’s time (of the conversation about the workforce) they were ready to start interviews.”
Eller said the conversation took place June 28. By July 9, FerroFab was conducting face-to-face interviews. On July 10 they began taking applications from Richmond, Scotland, Moore and Marlboro counties. Some applicants were taken to RCC and asked to perform welding tests. Within days, FerroFab hired its first crew of welders and other staff, to a total of 24 staff members.
“That was to me the ‘wow’ factor,” said Eller. “I’ve never seen a company make an announcement then make a product a month later. It means a lot for the community.”
The relationship between FerroFab and RCC will continue to grow, as students are allowed to train on machinery at FerroFab that the college doesn’t have. Likewise, recruitment through RCC for jobs will continue as students are trained for the work, then placed in a job.
Making all of this even sweeter is that FerroFab resurrected an old industrial building that had sat empty for eight years.
The reborn plant is expected to create 54 jobs over the next three years. State economic development officials also played a pivotal role in FerroFab coming to Hamlet.
And the company is just getting started. It plans to invest more than $500,000 in the facility.
FerroFab is so new the paint might still be wet on its sign, but there’s no doubt: it’s in business — big time.