Hundreds traveled from across the country to celebrate a milestone moment for a locally based manufacturing company.
Thursday’s event marked the 25th anniversary of the FAE Group, which manufactures mulching, grinding, stone-crushing and soil-stabilizing machine attachments.
“It’s a company that started from scratch in a small garage by four partners 25 years ago,” said CEO Giorgio Carera.
Born in Italy, the business soon began expanding to worldwide locations, including a new Russian site opened just last week, he said.
The U.S. headquarters, with 27 employees, is at 5321 Rafe Banks Drive in Flowery Branch. It’s been there for nearly 10 years, Carera said.
When deciding on the U.S. location, the company looked everywhere but chose Hall County because of its proximity to two major transportation hubs.
“There are a lot of advantages to being here,” Carera said. “It’s very close to the city of Atlanta, and the airport for us is very important because our people fly a lot.
“We have containers coming from Italy with our equipment, so they go to the Port of Savannah and they get tracked to here. So it’s a pretty strategic position.”
He said the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Tim Evans and Shelley Davis were instrumental in helping FAE select the location. Both Evans and Davis were recognized at the public event.
“We always love being invited back to celebrate with FAE every year,” said Evans, the chamber’s vice president of economic development.
“We’re so proud to have FAE in our community,” added Davis, the chamber’s vice president of existing industry, praising the company for its “leadership and vision.”
Carera also said it’s important for FAE to hire local people, estimating more than 50 percent of the U.S. employees reside in the South Hall area.
“You find here, in this county, in this region, very qualified people,” he said. “You find good technicians. You find good office people, good salespeople in general. The majority of the team has been built by the people who live around here.”
Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs said the annual open house is important to the surrounding community.
“They have a lot of equipment ... and manufacture a lot of equipment here,” he said, saying the location is a boost to the economy. “It’s just a big, big deal with us.”
After brief remarks by Carera at the FAE headquarters, contractors and other interested parties were transported to nearby work locations in Oakwood where FAE products were demonstrated. For example, at the first site a rock crusher was used to penetrate around 5 inches of asphalt; a demo with a product called Perma-Zyme showed how the crushed asphalt could then be recycled to rebuild the road.
The second demo site was in a wooded area, showing various machine attachments knocking down and chipping up trees and brush.
“We always develop our products based on the customer needs and the customer feedback,” Carera said. “They talk, we listen.”