Making brakes to slow big trucks has only accelerated the growth of Bowling Green’s Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake.
Bendix, a subsidiary of Germany-based manufacturer Knorr-Bremse, broke ground Friday on a 130,000-square-foot expansion that is expected to add up to 100 jobs.
It’s the latest of several expansions at the plant that opened in 2007 as a 187,000-square-foot facility with 133 employees in the South Industrial Park along Nashville Road. The plant now employs more than 400 people and runs three shifts making air disc brakes for such customers as General Motors, Peterbilt Motors, Blue Bird Corp. and Volvo Trucks North America.
“Those were humble beginnings 12 years ago,” said Carlos Hungria, Bendix chief operating officer. “The market for our brakes has made a remarkable transformation.”
Hungria pointed out in remarks at Friday’s groundbreaking that the Bowling Green Bendix plant produced 23,000 air disc brakes in 2009 and ratcheted up production to 700,000 brakes last year.
When an $8.8 million expansion was announced in 2014, Bendix leadership indicated the company’s market share in the commercial brake market had grown from 25 percent to more than 50 percent.
This latest expansion, Hungria said in a news release, will make the Bowling Green Bendix plant “even better positioned to meet the escalating demand for air disc brakes in North America.”
The $65 million expansion on an 8.5-acre tract next to the existing plant will include installation of a new production line along with new equipment, an on-site medical clinic and wellness center, and 100 new parking spaces. The expansion should be completed by the end of 2020, according to the news release.
The Bendix expansion is the latest of several economic investments locally, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ron Bunch said. A news release from the chamber said seven economic development projects totaling $349.6 million in capital investment have been announced this year.
Erran Persley, commissioner of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, was on hand for Friday’s groundbreaking and said adding jobs through expansion was in keeping with a trend statewide.
“Over 60 percent of investment by companies in our state have come from expansions of existing industries,” he said. “That means those companies are finding that Kentucky is a good place to grow their businesses.”
Bendix is getting an assist from the state to make this latest investment. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved in April $1.5 million in tax incentives for Bendix over 10 years.