NASF’s Sur/Fin in Hotbed of Automotive, Aerospace Region
When thousands of electroplaters, anodizers and industrial finishers congregate at the Sur/Fin Manufacturing and Technology Trade Show and Conference in Atlanta, they will be near what has become a new epicenter of automotive and aerospace manufacturing in the U.S.
18 major automotive production plants and dozens more aerospace supply/assembly facilities are located within a 400-mile radius of the Georgia World Congress Center, where Sur/Fin takes place June 19-21; organized by the National Association for Surface Finishing.
“This year, we wanted to bring Sur/Fin to an area of the country that is becoming more and more involved in the surface finishing industry,” says Matt Akin, President of TrueLogic Co. and chairperson of the show’s steering committee.
“The southeast has grown so much in automotive and aerospace manufacturing and we decided that it was time to rotate Sur/Fin into the region so more companies and their employees get a chance to see the exhibitors and attend the technical conferences.”
In nearby Alabama, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai all have major assembly plants, while Toyota also has an engine assembly operation located there.
In 2016, the three major automakers in Alabama built more than 1 million cars, setting a production record for the state, says the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
“Alabama’s auto industry continues to be a powerful force for the companies that have planted deep roots here, as well as for the skilled, dedicated workers of our state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, in an announcement earlier this year.
Neighboring Tennessee hosts assembly plants for General Motors, Nissan and Volkswagen, which has fostered more than 1,000 suppliers in the state and employing over 100,000 people.
GM has invested more than $2.2 billion in its Spring Hill plant since 2010, and earlier this year said it will spend another $27 million to invest in equipment to make right-hand-drive vehicles that will be exported to Australia.
Having so many automotive plants in the southeast region has attracted even more Tier I and II suppliers to the area, which has help send more business to suppliers such as those in the finishing industry.
For example, Spain-based auto supplier Grupo Antolin recently announced it will invest $10 million to build a manufacturing facility in Alabama that will hire 150 people by 2020.
In Georgia, more than 875,000 jobs are tied to automotive production, including many new suppliers from Europe. German-based Geiger Automotive, a manufacturer of plastic products for the automotive industry, opened a facility in Atlanta in 2016, creating 120 jobs and working with local suppliers.
“This location was strategically selected to optimize our ability to supply to our current automotive customers in the southeast U.S.,” said Ralph Ralston, president of Geiger Automotive USA, in a statement when the plant was announced. “We see an increasing interest from automotive OEMs in the region and a high growth potential for us here.”
Likewise, aerospace has grown. Alabama’s aerospace sector employs 83,000 people at more than 400 companies. Airbus opened its first ever U.S. assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, for its A320 line of aircrafts
The show’s keynotes further demonstrate an emphasis on these two growing industries.
Monday, June 19, features first keynote J. Scot Sharland, executive director of the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) who is leading the organization’s industry initiatives. NASF’s partnership with AIAG this year strengthens ties to the automotive industry and provides the surface finishing industry with a unified voice for the automotive manufacturing supply chain.
Scott Fetter from Lockheed Martin presents as the keynote Tuesday, June 20. Fetter is responsible for coating-related systems such as pollution prevention, materials substitution and compliance, including REACh.
“With the supply base in both automotive and aerospace growing, it really demanded that we take a look at the Atlanta area to hold Sur/Fin, and we are really excited about bringing it there,” Akin says.
For all exhibition details, conference sessions and event information, go to nasfsurfin.com.
Originally published in the May 2017 issue.
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