G.H. Tool & Mold, whose arrival at Bulloch County’s Gateway Industrial Park in 2000 had everything to do with Briggs & Stratton, is expanding along with its larger industrial neighbor.
Last week Briggs & Stratton announced an $18 million expansion within its Statesboro plant, with the addition of more than 50 jobs to the current workforce of 370.
This enables Briggs & Stratton to move production of commercial-use Vanguard V-Twin engines, previously manufactured in Japan through a joint venture with Daihatsu, to its factories in Statesboro and in Auburn, Alabama.
The same day Briggs made that announcement, Bulloch County’s Development Authority joined G.H. Tool & Mold in trumpeting its expansion. The $400,000 private investment and addition of eight jobs there isn’t just an offshoot of Briggs’ local growth, but helps make it possible, said Development Authority of Bulloch County CEO Benjy Thompson.
“From our perspective as a development authority, those numbers are great, any jobs and any capital investment are terrific, but also what makes their expansion decision important is the value it is providing to Briggs & Stratton for their expansion,” Thompson said.
G.H. Tool & Mold President Doug Graves told the Statesboro Herald that his company has already completed the physical addition to its Statesboro building, nearly doubling its size to 20,000 square feet. The company also installed more high-speed CNC, or computer numerical control, milling machines and a larger EDM, or electrical discharge machine. EDM processes use electrical arcs to cut away precise amounts of metal.
“The jobs, we’ve already added three,” Graves said Monday. “We added a night shift already in an effort to get more around-the-clock response for Briggs & Stratton, and we expect to add even more going forward as those products come into production cycle.”
The G.H. Tool facility had about seven full-time employees before starting to ramp up and so would be roughly doubling its workforce. These employees are skilled tradespeople, including precision machine operators, tool and die repair technicians and certified welders.
G.H. Tool & Mold has two other facilities, both in Washington, Missouri, where the company was founded, but is part of the larger Tooling Technologies Group, with manufacturing plants in Michigan and Ohio.
Tooling that G.H. installs for the Briggs & Stratton factory is built in Washington, Missouri and shipped here. The Statesboro facility is a service building where G.H. Tool & Mold employees replace components and repair broken items. Sometimes G.H. personnel go into the Briggs plant to work with its team members in troubleshooting and repair efforts, all directed at the high-pressure die-casting equipment Briggs uses to make its larger-cylinder engine cases.
“When the guys pull a die out of production at Briggs, they’ll bring it across or we’ll go pick it up, bring it back to G.H. Tool and go through the disposition of that tool, find out what issues they’ve had working with their team, as well as assess and evaluate the tooling, make the repairs and get it prepped for the next production run,” Graves explained.
The shop here is occasionally assigned tool-and-die jobs for other customers, but serving as a support facility to the Briggs & Stratton plant remains its major priority, he said.
“Our experience here in Statesboro has convinced us this is a great place to do business,” Graves said in the press release originally provided by the Development Authority.
“As a result, it was an easy decision to support Briggs & Stratton’s expansion goals,” he said “We are proud to say we are ahead of schedule on those expansion efforts. We look forward to contributing to Briggs & Stratton’s success, as well as aiding in making the Statesboro region a stronger manufacturing center.”
That announcement also quoted Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and Bruce Yawn, chairman of the Development Authority of Bulloch County.
“We are excited that G.H. Tool & Mold is expanding its current workforce in Statesboro to support the growing manufacturing sector in this region,” Wilson said. “We anticipate that this industry will continue to grow, providing more opportunities for companies like G.H. Tool & Mold to prosper.”
Yawn said: “The authority is happy to announce the G.H. Tool expansion in support of the recent decision by Briggs & Stratton to expand in Statesboro. G.H. Tool is a great example of our successful and thriving manufacturing sector in Statesboro-Bulloch County, and we’re pleased to support their expansion here.”
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.