Work is continuing at a steady pace at the site of Great Dane's new refrigerated trailer manufacturing plant in the Gateway Industrial Park complex on Highway 301 South.
Construction at the 118-acre site is on track, and the company's manufacturing engineering manager Alan Whiten expects the plant's certificate of occupancy to be issued in December.
"If construction remains on schedule, we can begin to move equipment into the plant at the beginning of January," Whiten said. "Once we have everything up and running, we will ramp up production starting in April."
Great Dane has named Kevin Black, plant manager in Terre Haute, Ind., to head up operations at the new Statesboro manufacturing facility. Over the next several months, other key management positions at the plant will be filled.
"We are going to advertise locally for upper level management positions such as facilities manager and human resources manager and those advertisements will have directions for applying," Whiten said. "The Georgia Department of Labor is going to orchestrate the process for hiring the vast majority of new employees, and those interested in a job at the plant can certainly contact them and they will give you the details for submitting an application."
Whiten said that hiring local residents is very important to Great Dane.
"We are so excited to be in Statesboro, and one of the reasons we chose this location is the access to a great pool of employees," he said. "So, we have every intention of hiring people from this area."
Whiten said his company will use the Quick Start program, a division of the Technical College System of Georgia, to train the company's initial wave of employees that will be hired to staff the plant. Quick Start has provided customized workforce training free-of-charge to qualified businesses in Georgia by delivering training in classrooms, mobile labs or directly on the plant floor, wherever it works best for a company.
Lori Durden, vice president for economic development at Ogeechee Technical College, said OTC will do training for the plant as needed after that point.
Great Dane officially broke ground in Statesboro in October 2010. The new reefer manufacturing facility will feature the latest technology in its foaming methods and automation of key production operations. When production begins the facility will have the initial capacity to produce more than 5,000 trailers annually, and at that level would employ more than 400.
Great Dane Trailers was founded in Savannah in 1900 as a steel fabricator. In 1931, it took on the manufacture and design of truck trailers for over-the-road freight hauling with the advent of better highways throughout the Southeast.
Today, Great Dane Trailers counts seven manufacturing plants among its facilities where refrigerated trailers, dry freight vans and flatbeds are built. Statesboro will be the eighth plant in this network, and will be dedicated to producing single- and multi-temp refrigerated trailers to support the food service industry.
The new plant will encompass 450,000 square feet, including office and show room space which will allow customers a unique opportunity to preview their trailers during the manufacturing process.