A German-based manufacturer broke ground Tuesday on a new $30 million facility along the U.S. 421 corridor north of Wilmington.
The new building marks a consolidation and expansion effort from Kessebohmer, a family-owned metal processor that produces retail display and kitchen storage products. The facility will operate as the company’s North American headquarters and will serve as a warehouse and distribution hub.
The company’s U.S. retail display and kitchen storage solutions previously operated as two separate divisions. The new building will consolidate the divisions, bringing them into a single space.
“The consolidation of our company’s presence and location is a long-awaited step that will move our operations under one roof and set the stage for additional growth in our business and our workforce,” Andre Klehm, chief executive officer of Kessebohmer Retail Merchandising, said Tuesday.
The company's kitchen storage division benefits from the site's proximity to a growing residential market in the Southeastern U.S., according to Klehm. The retail division has contracts with national stores Lidl and Aldi.
The firm has had a presence in Wilmington since about 2007. Kessebohmer is based in the north German town of Bad Essen and has a global workforce of more than 3,000 people.
Kessebohmer will occupy about 93,000 square feet of Class-A space on about 10 acres of land at 4301 U.S. 421. The company’s leaders and representatives from Wilmington Business Development broke ground on the new space alongside other local government officials.
The site is located directly across the highway from the Wilmington Trade Center, another recently constructed industrial project. The U.S. 421 corridor has witnessed an uptick in recent years of ongoing industrial development, and this latest project is just the "tip of the iceberg" for future development, said Ken Dull, president of project contractor McKinley Building Corporation.
The site's location along the corridor was one of the draws for Kessebohmer, Klehm said Tuesday.
“Kessebohmer could have placed this facility in many places, and, in fact, we did consider other possible locations,” he said. “But we saw in Wilmington’s Highway 421 corridor the ideal backdrop for a facility that was centrally located in the region, accessible via interstate to the eastern United States and convenient to the port of Wilmington, which connects us to our global supply chains.”
Klehm said the company values the local presence of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College to develop and train a regional workforce and the area's high quality of living, which makes it easy for the firm to recruit workers.
The company has initial plans to double its local workforce by adding 30 new jobs to staff the facility. Ultimately, Kessebohmer expects to build a manufacturing operation on the site, which could pave the way for more jobs.
Several speakers on Tuesday highlighted New Hanover County's foresight to extend water and sewer infrastructure up U.S. 421. That helps ease barriers for companies hoping to locate in the area, said New Hanover County Board of Commissioner's Chairman Bill Rivenbark.
“We've invested in critical water and sewer infrastructure to foster development, and those efforts are producing results in the form of economic growth and new employment opportunities,” Rivenbark said.