Germany-based car parts maker ZF is ending production of wind turbine gearboxes in Hall County as part of a reorganization of four area plants.
The reorganization’s end result, however, could be 80 new workers and possibly more “if current market trends continue to improve,” said Gary Mason, spokesman with ZF North America, in emails last week.
“The company plans no layoffs as a result of this production reorganization, and any affected ZF employee who would like to stay on with the company will be able to do so,” he said.
The wind power operation at 1925 New Harvest Road, off Calvary Church Road, will end in June.
ZF has decided to move that production to plants in Europe, India and China “in response to changing wind power product market conditions,” Mason said.
“The reorganization of the Gainesville (plants) includes the relocation of existing production lines within the site, as well as the installation of new production lines, particularly in the area of axle systems for (electric vehicles),” he said.
“We are relocating production from Palmour Drive to New Harvest Road in order to create space for additional assembly lines at Palmour Drive,” Mason said. “Most investment and new job creation will be at Palmour Drive.”
Further installation of new assembly lines is slated for 2019, he said.
ZF’s other Hall County plants are at 1261 Palmour Drive, 5405 Rafe Banks Drive and 5531 Rafe Court. The Palmour Drive facility is ZF’s original site, starting operations in 1987.
The company has 1,100 total local employees, Mason said.
ZF Wind Power opened in September 2011 with much fanfare.
In a grand opening ceremony attended by some 200 people, Gov. Nathan Deal said, "This facility represents cutting-edge technology.”
Full production was set to get underway in 2012, with the plant, representing a $98 million investment, expected to create some 250 jobs, officials said at the time.
Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said he sees “a very good upside” to ZF’s local reorganizing.
Gainesville was ZF's first North American production facility, and the company “has continued to reinvest in its people and the location to adapt to changes in technology and the times.”
“Locally, the company has resources and a highly talented team that will be ready to retool with the latest technology and product lines to become a stronger and more diversified part of ZF's global business,” Evans said.