UPDATED: LM Glasfiber Marks Opening of Little Rock Plant

by Mark Hengel  on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008 2:44 pm  

LM Glasfiber officially marks the opening of its new North American headquarters in Little Rock, which it says will employ 1,000 people over the next five years making windmill blades.

LM Glasfiber Inc. on Tuesday officially marked the opening of its new North American headquarters in Little Rock.

The company said it will invest about $150 million in the plant and Little Rock.

Tuesday's event took place behind the company's new building, which stretches across the Port of Little Rock site like a thin, white rectangle. The first shovel hit the ground last October; preparations for building the Little Rock site began in the summer of 2007.

It was an interesting road to get to this point. The process of luring the wind-power firm came about at the last minute of LM Glasfiber's search process, Gov. Mike Beebe said.

"I don't think he understood anything I said, and I don't think I understood anything he said," Beebe joked Tuesday about conversations that took place between Arkansas' top executive and the company's CEO, Roland M. Sundén.

But the company's leadership and Arkansas officials formed a close relationship, Beebe said.
"We've got roots here in Arkansas and we want to expand," Randy Fox, LM Glasfiber's North American general manager, said.

Fox said that the wind power industry is expected to double in the next eight years and that energy demands will double by 2030.

"Little Rock is part of that giant plan," Fox said.

Fox works at the company's facility on Scott Hamilton Drive. The Scott Hamilton site houses LM Glasfiber's North American headquarters. Over the next five years, the company plans to employ more than 1,000 people between that site and its plant at the Port of Little Rock.

Currently, about 630 Arkansans work for the company in Little Rock.

The company operates the two Little Rock plants five days a week with two shifts, Fox said. The hope is to operate the two plants seven days a week as employment reaches its goal of more than 1,000, he said. Even without the added production, the company is meeting 100 percent of its orders on time, Fox said.

The average pay for employees equals about $13 per hour, Adam Ruple, HR director, said, noting that the company offers a benefits package that includes full health coverage and three weeks of vacation.

LM Glasfiber hopes increase employees to 1,000 within four years and is now hiring about one in three applicants referred to the company and one in seven applicants found at job fairs the company has attended.

The Denmark-based company has said North America "is and will remain the most important market for wind energy in the years to come."

With the new plant, LM Glasfiber will double its North American capacity, he company said. The production halls of the newest facility have the capacity to handle even the largest blades made by LM, which measure 61.5 meters - about 70 yards, - the company said. The new factory easily measures more than 100 yards in length

The Little Rock plant is the 13th LM Glasfiber factory and the fourth in North America.

By Chance



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