Asama Coldwater Manufacturing Inc., which purchased the former Wheland Foundry in Warrenton in March, is embarking on a “multimillion” upgrade of the 135,000-square-foot plant to expand its current automotive brake drum manufacturing operations, General Manager Rick Roberts said.
“We’re upgrading almost all of the production equipment in this facility,” Roberts said. “It’s going to be almost like a brand-new foundry once we get it going.”
ACM, headquartered in Coldwater, Mich., will temporarily halt production from Monday through Nov. 30 as the 975 Thomson Highway facility gets a replacement molding machine and an existing one is rebuilt. During that six-week span, the plant’s 45 employees will either go to the Michigan site for training or remain in Warrenton to support the upgrade activities.
After the project is finished, the plant will continue to make brake parts for recreational vehicles and the heavy truck industry but also will have the capabilities to produce Honda parts, Roberts said.
About 20 additional jobs could be created by this time next year, he said.
The last company to operate in the Warren County facility before ACM was Miami-based U.S. Foundry.
According to Augusta Chronicle archives, the plant was built in the 1980s by Georgia Iron Works. From 1995 until 2002, Wheland Automotive Industries produced castings for wheel drums and rotors until the company filed for bankruptcy. The Livingston Co., a Chattanooga, Tenn.-based investment group, purchased the foundry in 2003 but closed in 2006 in part because of a slumping auto industry. Michigan-based TRW Automotive moved into the facility in 2007.