|Major Private Sector Employers|
|ABB Power T&D Co. Inc.||Transformers||300-599|
|Bristol Compressors||Hermetic Compressor||600-999|
|General Dynamics||Mobile Shelter Systems||300-599|
|Magnolia Manufacturing||Cotton Yarn||300-599|
|PepsiCo/Gatorade||Beverage- Gatorade, Propel||300-599|
|Royal Mouldings Ltd.||Prefinished Molding products||600-999|
|Somic America, Inc.||Precision Machined Automotive||300-599|
|Utility Trailer Manufacturing||Transportation Trailers||1,000-1,499|
Everything from snack foods and Gatorade to leading human resources software and a revolutionary plugless power system for electric vehicles is part of the manufacturing base in VIAA.
Fast developing is a cluster of food processing and beverage companies that take advantage of VIAA’s strategic East Coast location along the crossroads of two major interstates. Also in the mix are automotive- related industries that use sophisticated technology to make precision parts for the world’s leading automakers, and other businesses that utilize high-tech manufacturing expertise in plastics, furniture-making, defense, and distribution.
Employers include General Dynamics, ABB, Scholle, Moog, Universal Fibers, Klockner Pentaplast, Vaughan-Bassett Furniture, Bristol Compressors, Guardian Industries, Parkdale Mills, Food City, Royal Building Products, and Strongwell. Add in newer arrivals to VIAA – AGC Flat Glass, Pepsi Bottling Group, Gatorade, Amcor PET Packaging, and others – and VIAA is a diverse industry mix.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE PROCESSING
Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. took advantage of VIAA’s I-81/I-77 crossroads location in Wytheville and located a $65 million bottling facility.
In addition to the Pepsi facility, there is a growing number of beverage and food processing companies locating in VIAA. Calling the region an “important geographic hub” to its growing distribution needs, Gatoradelocated its one million sq. ft. bottling facility in Wytheville’s Progress Park. Right next door is Amcor PET Packaging, an Australian-based company that produces millions of plastic bottles for Gatorade and Propel branded sports drinks.
A snack food company,Shearer’s Foods, one of the largest producers of private label salty snacks in North America, recently invested $4.75 million to expand its operation in the City of Bristol and increase its workforce to 225 workers.
Another leading employer in the region is K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc, the corporate name of a supermarket chain operating in three states under the name Food City. The 94-store chain serves a current trade area population of more than 2.5 million people. K-VA-T operates Mid-Mountain Foods, a one million sq. ft. warehousing and distribution complex in Abingdon, Virginia.
Automotive companies in the region include Somic America, Inc. , located in the 1,200-acre Progress Park in Wytheville, Virginia. A merger between Wytheville Technologies, Inc. and Brewer Automotive Components, Inc., Somic America supplies components to North American automakers, including Toyota and Subaru.
Atsumi Car Equipment, maker of automotive wheel components, also operates in Progress Park.
Other automotive-related businesses include TRW Automotive, a well known manufacturer of rack and pinion steering systems, and Longwood Elastomers, an established company that makes engineered rubber products for the transportation industry.
Recognized as the “first name in trailers” throughout North America is Utility Trailer that operates two manufacturing locations in the region. Utility Trailer is known for producing the first single-axle trailer and the industry’s first EPA-certified SmartWay trailer.
DIVERSE INDUSTRY MIX
Other leading employers in VIAA include Klockner Pentaplast that uses the most advanced calendering and extrusion technologies to produce specially formulated films for pharmaceutical, medical device, food, and electronics packaging, and other uses.
Another is Bristol Compressors, which provides compressors to original equipment manufacturers and wholesale distributors in six continents and over 50 countries.
Based in Marion, Virginia, the General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products center of excellence produces composite structures, mobile shelter systems, high-performance radomes, and Resin Transfer Molding products. The Marion General Dynamics plant is one of the top 25 suppliers (out of 600) to Boeing.
AGC Flat Glass, formerly AFG Industries, the second largest flat glass manufacturer in North America, located in VIAA after visiting 30 sites in five states. AGC operates a 150,000 sq. ft. glass coating facility at the Oak Park Center for Business and Industry in Abingdon, Virginia.
Moog Components Group manufactures printed circuit board solutions for the military, for medical products, wind turbines, cell towers and satellites at its Galax, Virginia facility.
With two manufacturing locations in VIAA, and headquartered in Bristol, Strongwell, has been manufacturing high quality fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) products since 1956 using “the continuous automatic process” (today known as “pultrusion”). Strongwell is recognized as the world’s leading and largest pultruder of FRP.
Royal Building Products started out producing quality wood moulding products in its Marion, Virginia facility. Today’s business is exclusively resin extrusions that replace wood and metal – cellular polymer mouldings and millwork products found in Home Depot, Lowe’s, 84 Lumber and other stores that cater to do-it-yourselfers, remodelers and builders.
The wood products industry remains strong in VIAA. Well known Vaughn-Bassett Furniture, a long-time employer in Galax, Virginia, is the largest manufacturer of adult bedroom furniture in the U.S. Founded in 1919, Vaughan-Bassett employs over 600 people in its Galax plant. Another strong local industry is Turman Hardwood Flooring which manufactures pre-finished hardwood flooring from quality Appalachian hardwoods in its Galax facility. This aCorridor company also uses by-products from the flooring process to produce wood pellets for heating fuel.
Another leading employer in Galax is Consolidated Glass & Mirror Corporation, a subsidiary of Guardian Industries. In addition to the glass and mirror plant, the company added a new line in 2011 to produce specially coated mirrors used in the technology of concentrating solar power (CSP), a type of solar thermal power.
Magnolia Manufacturing, Inc., a division of Parkdale Mills, Inc., produces ring spun yarn at its Hillsville facility considered to be an example of the latest innovative technology at work. From its beginning, the Hillsville plant has been considered as more than a manufacturing facility by its parent Parkdale, the industry leader in the production of cotton and cotton blend yarns. Magnolia Manufacturing’s physical plant, equipment and unconventional layout are designed to ensure maximum flexibility and to replace labor intensive process with cutting edge technology.
In Independence, Grayson County, Nautilus Commercial Fitness Equipment has been a leading employer for many year. Nautilus Commercial is now part of the Med-Fit Group, and continues to manufacture commercial strength fitness equipment for distribution throughout the United States and in international markets.
VIAA companies are at the forefront of employing green technologies in their businesses, and the region is also home to the world’s largest “green” food and beverage facility. The Gatorade Blue Ridge facility, located in Progress Park in Wytheville, is the largest food and beverage site in the world to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s certification as a Gold-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) facility.
Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. in Galax, a founding member of the Sustainable Furniture Council, is committed to manufacturing its furniture in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner. Through its “One for One” program, Vaughan-Bassett plants a tree to replace every tree used in the production of the company’s bedroom and dining room suites. It covers the trees used in all domestic production – 96 percent of total production – and the four percent that is imported. The company also installed $2 million computerized rough end systems in their plants that have increased lumber yield by over 20 percent, thereby significantly reducing the number of trees needed to produce furniture.
Calling its practices “smart business,” another VIAA company, Universal Fibers in Bristol, participates in a variety of efforts, including the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), developing high-quality recycled products and facility conservation programs. Universal also won an Innovative Design Award from New York House magazine for its ReFresh Fibers made from a sophisticated multi-step process that takes post-consumer carpet and turns it back into usable nylon fiber.
Evatran, LLC, a clean technology company in the region is producing innovative charging solutions for electric vehicles and extended-range hybrids. The new product is Plugless Power(TM), the world’s first “hands-free” proximity charging system for electric vehicles.
Businesses started by native entrepreneurs hoping to fulfill a niche also play a big part in the success of existing industry in VIAA.
Camrett Logistics offers expedited services to and from any point in the continental United States and Canada, providing cargo vans, trucks and tractor-trailers for same-day and next-day deliveries, and Camrett Dedicated Logistics, Inc. specializes in fleet management and dedicated logistics. Musser Lumber Salesbegan as a two-man sawmill in 1967, and today operates the family-owned business that specializes in kiln dried and green lumber for furniture, flooring and cabinet companies.
Another regional entrepreneur created TEDS, Inc. , a privately held software development company that was launched in 1980 with $400 and a vision to understand customers and work with them to devise the best technology solution. From its creation of the industry’s first learning management system (LMS) in 1991 to its current offering of Talent Management tools and strategies, TEDS, Inc. holds a distinctive position in the human capital industry that it helped found.
Universal Companies, Inc. , a company that operates in a $5 million corporate headquarters, training facility and state-of-the- art distribution center in the Oak Park Center for Business and Industry in Abingdon, was created by a local woman and her father. Universal has been serving the spa industry with innovative products, equipment, supplies and services for more than 20 years.