Novelis opens 160,000-square-foot research complex in Kennesaw
by Sheri Kell
June 20, 2012 12:00 AM | 3133 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Richard Hamerton, metallurgy and modeling group leader, right, describes the beverage can testing area to guests as they tour the new Novelis Global Research and Technology Center in Kennesaw on Thursday.<br>Staff/Laura Moon
Richard Hamerton, metallurgy and modeling group leader, right, describes the beverage can testing area to guests as they tour the new Novelis Global Research and Technology Center in Kennesaw on Thursday.
Staff/Laura Moon
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KENNESAW — With the grand opening of Novelis’ $30 million, 160,000-square-foot global research and technology center in Kennesaw last Saturday, the world’s largest supplier of rolled aluminum hopes to be closer to its top customers to better meet their demand and increase the amount of recycled aluminum in their products.

Novelis supplies rolled aluminum for the automotive, beverage-can and specialties markets. Its top customers include Coca-Cola, Jaguar, BMW and Samsung. Novelis’ new research center is at 1950 Vaughn Road, near Barrett Parkway and Cobb Parkway, and contains office space, an aluminum testing lab, and a beverage can-making line. The pilot can line gives its global can customers the ability to see can designs and testing in a simulated manufacturing environment.

“It became very critical for us to have a world-class technical facility that we could bring in our partners, our technologists, our scientists and engineers to all come together to work in a state-of-the-art facility with first-class capabilities,” said Novelis CEO Phil Martens. The company’s global headquarters remain in Buckhead.

Company officials said 140 jobs were being created, though Martens said 70 of those employees were being relocated from two facilities that were collapsed in Ontario and Kingston, Ill. Much of the testing equipment and canning plant equipment was shipped in on trucks from the locations.

“We put a lot of money into the test equipment and capability but most importantly, we have been able to bring and properly relocate 70 people and ultimately 100 people to this facility,” Martens said.

The building was formerly owned and occupied by Kemira, a worldwide water chemical manufacturer. Novelis completely rebuilt the facility from the inside out, said company project manager Bruce Dickinson. He said the facility was gutted and rebuilt in 11 months.

Cobb County provided Novelis with an incentive package that included a $1.14 million, 10-year tax abatement; a $66,825 reduction in business licensing fees and an $85,000 reduction in building permit fees. The Cobb Development Authority also provided $100,000 in employee relocation expenses. Novelis is required to create 150 jobs and provide a $30 million capital investment over three years.

Cobb Chairman Tim Lee, who was among about 100 people at the grand opening, said: “Novelis has made a significant investment that goes well beyond just bricks and mortar. By creating new high tech and skilled jobs in our community, Novelis is putting our residents to work and growing Cobb’s economy.”

Kennesaw Mayor pro-tem Cris Welsh presented Martens with proclamations from the mayor’s office and the governor’s office declaring June 15 as aluminum recycling day in Georgia.

The new center is intended to be the hub of Novelis’ global research and development network, which includes seven smaller facilities in the United States, Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Korea. Future plans include the addition of a small-scale aluminum rolling mill. Novelis also has a company-wide goal to use 80 percent recycled content in all of its products by the year 2020.

Three months before the grand opening, Novelis partnered with Southern Polytechnic State University and had a team of engineering students build a giant, transformer-like statue in the lobby. Christopher Cutter, a recent Southern Poly mechanical engineering graduate, volunteered to provide all the computer-aided design for the project, and landed a job as an entry-level engineer in the testing lab.
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