In mid-April, Löningen sheet metal specialist Friedrich Graepel AG celebrated the expansion of its production site in the US. Its capacity has been doubled – with even more plans for the future.
The Americans are pragmatic in this regard: once a decision has been made, it is implemented without hesitation. Mark Zumdohme, head of Graepel North America, is pleased with the new production line at the site in Omaha, Nebraska. “We finished up just a few days ago – only eleven months after kick-off.”
With this step, Graepel enlarged the site’s usable area to 8,000m2. “We’re manufacturing at full steam; the factory’s been bursting at the seams,” Mark Zumdohme announced. This is already the third big expansion. It created 15 new jobs, bringing Graepel North America Inc. up to a workforce of 70.
Confident of their performance
Nebraska Senator, Deb Fischer, praised the German manufacturer’s dedication. Her state provided good conditions for investors. Graepel has grown to become a successful player on the US market, remarked Mayor David Black. Managing directors Carlo and Felix Graepel came all the way from Germany for the occasion. They thanked everyone involved in the project, making special note of their team spirit – which was also shown by the US officials. In Germany, it would have taken much longer to complete this expansion, underscored Felix Graepel.
The new section of the plant now houses an automated perforation line, as well as straightening and tool maintenance machines, among other things. Two new fiber lasers and additional weld stations are also ready for operation now. These were accompanied by a new breakroom, ventilation systems and a stormwater retention basin to meet local environmental requirements. A new gantry crane was installed to handle the tonnes of steel coils.
Of course, it was clear that all of the walkways and platforms would come from Graepel’s own product range. Including the system of railings around the roofed loading point: the modular elements are quick to remove when necessary.
Progress for 17 years
A quick look back: Graepel started up in the US in 2006. “From scratch – with just one man,” recalls Mark Zumdohme, referring to himself. Thanks to a dedicated team, clever marketing campaigns and a bit of good fortune, business in cold-formed sheet metal components grew. One order led to the next; the good reputation of German engineering opened many doors: Today, many large manufacturers of trucks, agricultural machinery and construction equipment order
air grilles, running boards and structural parts from Graepel. This benefits the other four factories of the company – the only company in its industry that manufactures with 900 employees on three continents. Meanwhile, Graepel is increasingly producing independently in the States – the short distances to the customers are an important factor, and of course everything is American-made.
Supplying parts for the 2023 Corvette – the latest super sportscar from General Motors – isn’t the only thing that has put Graepel in the spotlight in North America. The latest electric trucks from US manufacturer Nikola, the “Tesla of utility vehicles” so to speak, contain many components from Graepel. More projects are in the pipeline, says Mark Zumdohme. “But we don’t want to give away any surprises just yet.” Originating from the town of Lastrup in Lower Saxony, the CEO definitely has the future squarely in view: The northern wall of the building is made of quick take-down metal panels – for further expansions of the factory.