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Epsilon CEO Shares More About Firm's $650M Plan

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Feb 15, 2024
Sunit Kapur
Sunit Kapur, CEO of Epsilon Advanced Materials, left the railroad business to run an electric vehicle battery component company, an industry he describes as “sunrise” as opposed to “sunset.”

“I thought, ‘I’m too young to be in a last-man-standing sort of industry,’” he said.

Kapur flew from his home in Michigan to North Carolina on Thursday to attend a public briefing at Brunswick Community College’s Leland Center on Enterprise Boulevard. The briefing’s purpose was to educate the community on the partnership between Epsilon and BCC, which aims to train an available workforce for Epsilon’s planned facility in Brunswick County.

Epsilon, an India-based electric vehicle battery component manufacturer, announced in October it chose Brunswick County as the location for its first manufacturing facility in the United States. The project is estimated to create around 500 jobs paying about $52,000 each. The total investment in the project is projected to be $650 million, although it may cost more, as that is how construction projects usually go, Kapur said.

The company manufactures graphite, which is a key component of lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles. The skills required to work at a plant such as Epsilon’s don’t usually fall in BCC’s curriculum. The company partnered with the community college to create a certificate for students to learn the skills required to work at the Brunswick plant.

There will be jobs available for all trades, Kapur said, from electrical to mechanical to managerial and warehousing jobs within the plant. The process for producing the form of graphite used in lithium-ion batteries requires large furnaces, so many of the employees will need on-the-job training to learn how to operate the furnaces, he said. Other forms of training will be provided through BCC courses.

“The mechanical equipment, we will try to put some prototype here in Brunswick (Community) College so that the team members who would want to join us would get some exposure here before they start with us,” Kapur said.

Training is expected to take the form of a certificate program that would last a couple of months. Those certificate courses will most likely begin six months before the Epsilon plant is ready for production, he said. His team is planning to start off small with a “ramp-up plan” beginning with a small capacity for workers and growing from there.

Kapur said the team has weekly meetings to discuss the progress of the Brunswick project. The plant is projected to break ground in August and be completed in early 2026, with the majority of activity happening in the middle of next year, he said.

Thursday’s community outreach meeting happened in two parts: one for vendors and suppliers in the afternoon and one for the general public in the evening. Kapur said he was looking forward to the opportunity to answer the community’s questions. The meetings were publicized through Eplison to its partners and through Brunswick Community College.

“We want them to know what we do, ‘what are we?’, ‘what are we into?’ and then, of course, we want to create that brand awareness so that people would want to work with us,” he said.

Epsilon started the environmental permitting process before the project was announced and received the acknowledgment that the application was received on Wednesday. The permitting is a major milestone for the project, Kapur said, because the facility is such a large investment.

“The support we got from the county community college, the officials, was unprecedented,” Kapur said. “So, I think that's one of the main reasons I’m so excited to be here.”
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