Industry of the Year

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce hosted the 4th Annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon on January 23 at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville. Sponsored by Lanier Technical College, the event included the presentation of Industry of the Year awards to small, medium and large industries in the Greater Hall area.

“Though Gainesville-Hall County’s existing industries don’t make front page headlines every day, the investments that these companies provide, the jobs they create and their community involvement is invaluable,” said Shelley Davis, Vice President of Existing Industry for the Greater Hall Chamber. “The Greater Hall Chamber appreciates our manufacturers, processors and distributors every day, and we wanted to take this time for an event to allow the entire community to recognize what they mean to us and the impact they have upon our economy.”

The Greater Hall area has over 300 manufacturers, processors and distributors, including over 40 international subsidiaries, and automotive suppliers, food processors, life science companies and others. Industries were recognized for their economic impact on the community, corporate responsibility and workforce excellence.

2013 Industry of the Year Award Recipients:

Industry of the Year – Small Category (0 – 150 Employees)
Zebra Technologies Corporation
Pao Sengkhammee, Plant Manager

Zebra Technologies Corporation, a bar coding label manufacturer, located to Oakwood South Industrial Park in 2007 to a 20,000-square foot facility with 10 employees. The facility quickly grew with an expansion in 2008 to 30,000-square feet and in 2012 expanded to 40,000-square feet investing over $1.5 million in space, new automated equipment and additional jobs. Now with 38 employees, Zebra manufactures bar coding labels for retail, healthcare, manufacturing, automotive and other industries.

The Oakwood Zebra location is the company’s second largest (supplies) plant in North America and services three major distributors in the Southeast. The plant has more than doubled their revenue since manufacturing began at the site, and they continue to see growth in the future. The company credits its success to its location and proximity to major customers, the shipping corridor, availability of quality local employees and resources, and the strong support for manufacturing by local officials.

Zebra initiated the implementation of a Flexographic Printing program with their Partner in Education, Johnson High School, to the tune of $90,000 to develop the workforce of tomorrow. Zebra believes in a balance between work and personal life and recently increased the number of paid sick days for employees and hosts annual company-sponsored events and a tuition reimbursement program. Zebra was the winner of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce 2012 Environmental Stewardship Recognition Award.

Zebra Technologies Corporation, 5322 E Rafe Banks Drive, Flowery Branch, GA 30542. 770-967-7156.

Industry of the Year – Medium Category (151 – 200 Employees)
Mike Duffy, Plant Manager

Established in Oakwood in 2001, Bitzer is an industrial compressor and pressure vessel manufacturer with worldwide distribution and sales. In the past year, Bitzer has invested $9 million in purchasing land, constructing a new building and investing in new equipment. Bitzer’s workforce has increased by 47% by adding 45 new jobs and currently has 125 employees.

The Bitzer corporation ranks among the leading manufacturers of refrigerant compressors and some 3,000 employees in more than 90 countries stand behind this success. The company hosts annual company picnics and holiday parties and provides educational reimbursement for employees along with performance bonuses.

Bitzer partners with Good News at Noon and sponsors regular coat and food drives. Environmental and safety efforts are key to Bitzer’s continuous improvement focus in their recycling program, and reduction of electricity and water usage. Bitzer is a Certified Drug Free Workplace.

BITZER US Inc., 4080 Enterprise Way, Flowery Branch, GA 30542. 770-718-2900.

Industry of the Year – Large Category (201+ Employees)
Kubota Manufacturing of America Corp.
Henry Kubota, President / Phil Sutton, Chief Administrative Officer

Established in Gainesville in 1988, Kubota Manufacturing of America produces high quality lawn and garden tractors, subcompact tractors and rough terrain vehicles. Kubota currently has 1,015 employees and made significant investments in 2012 by adding an assembly line with 95 additional employees for a completely new line of consumer turf products and by enhancing local research and development and product testing capability.

Kubota is involved in several community projects including United Way, Georgia Mountain Food Bank, Leadership Hall County and the Hall County Farm Bureau. The company provides Eagle Ranch with turf equipment for their use and by mowing the large areas for them. Kubota saves Hall County over $30,000 annually in grass cutting contracts by giving Kubota access to local parks and utility sites for turf product testing.

In 2012, the company adopted the brand statement “For Earth, For Life” and is committed to the cause of protecting the environment, heath and safety of our employees with a robust program. Kubota is a Certified Drug Free Workplace and proud to announce ISO 14001 certified, a strict environmental management standard, in 2012. Kubota is currently sponsoring 18 interns from Woods Mill High School and Lanier Academy.

Kubota is known its industry leading wages and benefits including 100% preventative medical and dental care for members and eligible dependents. Employees take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program and enjoy annual family programs including an open house, family picnic and Christmas party. Employees participate in improving quality and productivity with Quality & Kaizen awards and two hourly members recently traveled to Japan to participate in the global skills competition.

Kubota Manufacturing of America Corp., 2715 Ramsey Road, Gainesville, GA 30501. 770-532-0038.

2013 Industry Awards of Recognition

Environmental Stewardship Recognition
Albert International
Rainer Behrendt, President

Albert is changing all products over to a bio-based environmentally friendly material and will be doubling to 50,000-square feet and creating five new jobs this year. Albert currently has 40 employees and manufactures bulbs, pumps, syringes and other products used in medical fields.
Albert International, 989 Athens Street SE, Gainesville, GA 30501. 770-287-7424.

Safety Recognition
Poly Enterprises
Greg Ours, President – Poly Enterprises

Poly is a certified Drug Free Workplace with an aggressive, employee-steered safety program that regularly audits and makes improvements. Poly has 45 employees and is a molded vinyl manufacturer of activity sets, mats and traffic cones.
Poly Enterprises, 1168 Palmour Drive, Gainesville, GA 30503. 770-534-9977.

Employer Recognition
Jean-Luc Gardelle, General Manager

SKF has annual employee family events including an Easter Egg Hunt, Chucky Cheese Christmas Party, and Steak Cookout. SKF offered over 3500 hours of leadership and communication training for existing employees in 2012 at Lanier Technical College through QuickStart. SKF has 250 employees and manufactures angular contact and deep groove ball bearings and added a new product line this year.
SKF USA Inc., 5385 McEver Road, Flowery Branch, GA 30542. 770-967-5312.

Corporate Citizenship Recognition
Kipper Tool Company
Danny Sears, Vice President

Kipper provides several mentors to local schools and supports Challenged Child; sponsors the Lanier Canoe & Kayak club, University of North Georgia golf event; and supports Wounded Warrior and Fallen Heroes of Georgia. Employee training includes off-work subjects too. Kipper has 90 employees and assembles and distributes custom tool kits to business, industry and the military.
Kipper Tool Company, 2375 Murphy Boulevard, Gainesville, GA 30504. (770) 532-3232.

For information on the Greater Hall Chamber’s Industry of the Year Awards, Industry Recognition or other Existing Industry Programs, contact Shelley Davis, Vice President of Existing Industry, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, 770-532-6206 x 108. Email:

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