News Articles

Town of Liberty Awarded $325,000 Grant for Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. Warehouse Project

December 7, 2023

Press Release: December 7, 2023


Town of Liberty Awarded $325,000 Grant for Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. Warehouse Project

Asheboro, NC – Today, the Town of Liberty was awarded a $325,000 NC Commerce Building Reuse Grant by the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority. The grant will assist with the renovation of an 85,314 square foot building located at 7280 Liberty Park Avenue in Liberty. The project will put the long-vacant building into productive use for the first time since its construction in 2001. Total investment in the project, including the grant funding, is projected to exceed $7 million including building renovations, upfits, and machinery and equipment.

Facilitated by the grant, Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. (TAI) will create forty-one new jobs in the project building. The facility will serve as an offsite warehouse to support Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina’s (TBMNC) nearby production of hybrid electric vehicle batteries. The renovated warehouse space will be open by 2025 when TBMNC begins production. TAI anticipates Monday through Friday operations with two shifts.

This project marks the first announced direct TBMNC supplier jobs coming to Randolph County.

“Liberty was very excited with the recent education announcement from Toyota Tsusho and humbled with the generous donation given to Teach for America for the Eastern Randolph High School mentoring program,” said Liberty Mayor Filmore York. “With the $7 million investment in upfits and equipment in the vacant warehouse facility and the commitment to create 41 new jobs in Liberty, we look forward to ongoing collaboration and partnership with this outstanding company.”

TAI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho Corporation, founded as a trading and supply-chain specialist of the Toyota Group. Headquartered in New York City, TAI has been operating in North America since 1961. It has evolved to a multi-business enterprise today that combines international trading of various industrial products including metals, machinery, chemicals, and electronics, with an expansive range of domestically targeted functions including supply-chain services, logistics, intermediate goods processing, and engineering solutions. TAI has regional offices, subsidiaries, and affiliates across North America in 78 locations and over 8000 employees, including four employees in its Greensboro office.

“Toyota Tsusho is proud to team up with the state and local community on revitalizing the Liberty Park Avenue warehouse,” said Joel Logan, TAI Senior Vice President, who oversees Sustainable Business Development. “We believe more is possible when we work together, and this collaboration is a great example of that. Toyota Tsusho appreciates the support of the town of Liberty, Randolph County, EDPNC, and NC Commerce and we are excited to grow our business in the region through this investment.”

“It has been a pleasure working with Toyota Tsusho officials, both in Japan and in the U.S., in support of this project,” stated Randolph County EDC president Kevin Franklin. “The company has an outstanding track record in both business and community engagement as evidenced by their recently announced advocacy in bringing Teach for America to Eastern Randolph High School. TAI is a great addition to our corporate community, and we look forward to a productive partnership for many years to come.”

In addition to support from the Town of Liberty, the following entities have been critical to the success of this project: North Carolina Department of Commerce, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, North Carolina Community College System, Randolph Community College, and Randolph County.

The Randolph County Economic Development Corporation is a non-profit organization that works with industrial clients in the county. The EDC’s mission is to support a growing healthy economy so that local residents have diverse quality job opportunities through the attraction of new businesses to the area and the retention and expansion of existing business and industry. The EDC is a proud partner of the NC Carolina Core.



Klaussner Furniture shuts down operations

August 8, 2023

Asheboro, NC 

Source: Triad Business Journal

After 60 years in business, Klaussner Furniture Industries Inc. of Asheboro announced yesterday it will shut down all operations.
"As the result of challenging and unexpected business circumstances impacting our operations, Klaussner Furniture Industries, Inc. and its direct and indirect subsidiaries must unexpectedly wind down the operations," the company stated in a release announcing the shutdown.
"Klaussner's lending source has unexpectedly refused to continue to fund the Company's operations. This outcome was not reasonably foreseeable, but due to these unexpected circumstances, Klaussner can no longer sustain its operations. As a result, Klaussner has made the difficult decision to permanently cease operations and is providing as much notice as possible."
In 2017, New York-based private investment firm Monomoy Capital Partners acquired Klaussner Home Furnishings.
Klaussner said it has started the process of closing all of its facilities entirely. The company states on its website that it manufacturers over 70% of its products domestically through its five production facilities in North Carolina.
According to TBJ research, Klaussner employs about 925 at its Asheboro production facility at 405 Lewallen Road.
"Klaussner is working to provide information and resources to assist with next steps for displaced employees as it becomes available. This information will be communicated directly to employees via the contact information we have on file."
In 2020, Klaussner Furniture sold three of its Triad facilities and more than 265 acres for approximately $50.6 million. Klaussner sold its headquarters building at 405 Lewallen Road and its Prestige Fabricators facility at 965 N.C. 49 in Asheboro, as well as a warehouse and distribution site at 4306 U.S. 220 Business in Randleman, to asset manager AR Global of New York, with an agreement to lease back the three Triad buildings from AR Global as well as a wood fabricating facility in Candor that was sold for another $11 million-$12 million.
Last August, Klaussner promoted David Cybulski to president and CEO. Cybulski had served as interim CEO since July following the retirement of Terry McNew and had been the company's chief financial officer since 2019.

Toyota adds another $2B in Randolph County, NC

May 31, 2023

Toyota adds another $2B in Randolph County, NC

Toyota is adding another $2.1 billion in investment to its vehicle battery plant under construction near Greensboro as the company expands its lineup of all-electric vehicles, including a new three-row SUV model, the company announced Wednesday.

The company said it doesn't yet know the effect on employment. It's roughly the same size of expansion Toyota announced last August and which grew job totals by about 350, but company executives said it's too soon to know exactly how the added capacity will be arrayed to know how many more workers will be needed.
The expansion of the Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina plant under construction near Liberty in northern Randolph County brings total investment there to nearly $6 billion. It’s the second expansion since Toyota first announced its plans in December 2021, but also leaves room for even more growth.
Some of the batteries will go into a new battery-electric SUV model to be assembled at Toyota’s Kentucky assembly and engine plant. It’ll be the world’s largest automaker’s first U.S.-assembled all-battery, three-rows-of-seats sport utility vehicle.

But Sean Suggs, the Toyota executive in charge of the Liberty operation, said the expanded plans aren't just for the new all-electric SUV.

"This investment will be used for expanded infrastructure to support our future growth," Suggs said in a conference call with news organizations Wednesday morning.
"With this new infrastructure, it's getting us ready for what what's to come. We believe that this additional announcement will get us ready for not only the buildings but the equipment and tools and everything that we need. But today we're not ready to announce any additional hiring."
Wednesday’s news follows Toyota’s announcement late last August, part of the company’s overall expansion of vehicle electrification worldwide, that it would expand its plans in Liberty by $2.5 million to a total of $3.8 billion, adding 350 jobs to 2,100 in all. Suggs said his unit has hired about 150 so far locally, and expects to be at 700 by year-end, with hires working from a temporary base of nearly 115,000 square feet the company has subleased on Pinecroft Road in Greensboro.

Toyota expects the expansion to require two new buildings of about a million square feet each to make batteries for all-electric vehicles.
The Liberty factory will be Toyota’s hub for developing and producing lithium-ion batteries for its lineup of electric vehicles. Until now, the company has had only one major production all-battery vehicle, the BZ4X, which is made in Asia.

At Liberty, raw materials will be made into batteries, which will then be shipped, by truck and rail, to Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky, plant, for assembly into battery packs and put into finished vehicles.
The new SUV is part of Toyota’s expansion of all-electric vehicles. It introduced the first hybrid gasoline-battery vehicle by a major car company to gain widespread acceptance, the Prius, but has fallen behind other companies in all-electric, though Toyota notes it has 22 electrified vehicle models across the Toyota and Lexus brands, more than any automaker.

The company’s top executive team has repeatedly said it is sticking to its mix of hybrids and battery-electric vehicles in part because key battery ingredients, including lithium, will be hard to come by for the foreseeable future, and it can electrify more vehicles by offering hybrids. They also express wariness that an adequate network of charging stations can be built out fast enough to meet consumers’ needs, and that at least for now, all-electric vehicles may still be too expensive for many potential consumers, but hybrids may be more affordable.

Source: Traid Business Journal

Energizer to Expand Operations in Asheboro

May 22, 2023

Energizer to Expand Operations in Asheboro

Energizer Holdings, Inc. has announced that it will grow its production and packaging operations in Asheboro with a commitment to create 178 new jobs and invest $43 million in machinery and equipment.

Bigger bunny? Energizer considering $43 million expansion

April 18, 2023

Bigger bunny? Energizer considering $43 million expansion

After 75 years making small batteries in and around Asheboro and Randolph County, Energizer is trying to decide whether to expand or contract its operations.

The maker of household-name Energizer batteries, Energizer Holdings, won unanimous approval Monday evening from Randolph County commissioners and Asheboro’s city council for a $420,000 incentive package to help convince the company to not only stay and keep its current 411 jobs at two sites but also to expand local operations.

If it chooses to expand, it would spend $43 million to upgrade equipment and its manufacturing site and its separate packaging operation, both in Randolph County. It would hire 178 more people at an average annual wage of $54,000 a year, 25.6% higher than the the county average of about $43,000. It would add some $9.5 million new payroll into the local economy.

The proposal had been identified, but the name of the company was revealed publicly by Randolph County Economic Development Corporation President Kevin Franklin at a special joint meeting of both boards Monday evening.

"There will not be an announcement this evening should this be approved by the boards, but it will help aid in their decision- making process of where the operations do expand,” Franklin told commissioners and councilors.

"They're currently reviewing production and packaging operations corporately across the entire corporate footprint and looking at different options to maximize efficiency. All of those corporate facilities are under consideration to either gain or lose equipment as a part of this review.”

Franklin noted that Energizer is not only a household name — its Energizer Bunny advertising mascot was introduced in 1989 — but is also a local legacy employer. Union Carbide began making batteries in the Asheboro area in 1948. Everyready was its main brand, with Energizer introduced in 1980.

The brands went through a few rounds of corporate ownership until it was spun off separately in 2000, and in 2019 Energizer Holdings acquired Rayovac, VARTA, Armor All, STP, and A/C Pro from Spectrum Brands, according to the history section of the company website.

The incentives, paid equally by the county and city, would equate to 50% of the expected increase in local tax revenues for the two jurisdictions over the proposed five-year period from the added value of the company's property. Energizer is also eligible for a state One NC economic-development grant, Franklin added.

The expansion would begin later this year and be implemented over three years, Franklin said. It’s all new equipment without new construction expected.

Commissioners noted the company’s long history and multi-generational employment in the county.

“So many of our citizens have worked there through the years, and families even, and so I'm excited about this opportunity for Energizer first and foremost, but for our Randolph County citizens and for Asheboro,” commissioner Hope Haywood said.

Source: Triad Business Journal