How Dade County’s Workforce and Low Cost of Doing Business Wooed Vanguard Trailer
To continue its growth and address demand for its product, Vanguard Trailer, an Indiana-based manufacturer of dry freight and refrigerated semi-trailer vans for the North American transportation industry, began to consider building a second dry van manufacturing facility in 2014. A subsidiary of CIMC (China International Marine Containers), Vanguard identified an opportunity to build the first dry van manufacturing plant in the Southeast to better serve its customers, and started its search for a site, considering locations in Tennessee, Alabama or Georgia.
In 2015, Vanguard Trailer announced Dade County, Georgia as the home of its new $36 million, 350,000- square-foot manufacturing facility, which would employ 400 and produce 10,000 semi-trailers annually once operating at full capacity. The company credits Dade County’s proximity to customers, availability of a talented workforce and the support of the local and state governments for its decision to locate in Trenton, Georgia.
“Dade County is in the middle of a region that fits well with our current and planned customer base,” said Denny Williams, chief operating officer at CIMC USA, which is the holding company for Vanguard Trailer. “Many existing customers and dealers want equipment in the Southeast and this location saves us a substantial amount on delivery costs.”
Before settling on Dade County, Vanguard met with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Dade County Industrial Development Authority to learn about the vast array of support available to new businesses, including incentives like job-tax credits and Georgia’s state EDGE grant. Additionally, the state offers a comprehensive workforce training program, Quick Start, which partners businesses in Georgia with technical colleges and provides customized workforce training for free.
Moreover, the site chosen by Vanguard received the state’s GRAD certification, which takes care of all due diligence that a company would typically have to complete before purchasing a property, such as environmental and geological reviews, making the site more appealing.
“Both the state of Georgia and Dade County were excellent at providing the resources and information that we needed to make our location decision,” said Williams. “They have been equally supportive throughout the construction and now start-up phases of our operation.”
Ground broke on the project in September 2015, and plant operations began on August 15, 2016, in line with the company’s original goal of a Q3 2016 start. Once operating at full capacity, the plant will produce 10,000 semi-trailers annually. To-date, the company has hired 130 employees with plans to reach employment levels in excess of the originally planned 400 workers, who will fill a range of roles from manufacturing, leadership, safety and human resources to materials and accounting.
“We’re very happy with our operations in Dade County,” said Williams. “Both the county and the state have delivered on all of their promises.”
Did you know?
Workers at Vanguard Trailer work four 10 hour shifts instead of five eight-hour days, allowing them to “have a life” outside of work.