FerroFab Inc., a metalworking manufacturing company, made the announcement it was coming to Hamlet and a month later it had produced its first product, which is 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. “We got our first order for production.”
Lee Eller, who runs industrial training for Richmond Community 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 location. “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.”
There are several firsts for this company.
“Another thing we’ve never had before is the owners of a company ask what salaries the workers should have, and if their salaries were too low,” said Eller.
Hauer said he found many people surprised at the fact that he takes suggestions and comments from his crew.
“We really listen to them,” said Hauer. “We place emphasis on great communication. Their safety, efficiency and productivity is most important. If we give them what they need, we will succeed as a company.”
Hauer said this as he stood in the plant on Hylan Avenue in Hamlet. His crew’s shift had just ended, and everyone left together, tired, but wearing smiles.
“I love my crew,” said Hauer. “They are young and energetic and some with prior welding experience and others have just finished their courses at RCC. There haven’t been any personnel issues. Everyone seems to get along like they are old friends.”
Hauer said Hamlet won out against Florence, South Carolina, for the location of the company, because material suppliers are close by and can get materials delivered to the plant within a day.
“Our customers are close by as well, and our focus is on the Carolinas’ market. There is a nice industrial manufacturing base within a 500-mile radius,” said Hauer.
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.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.