BMW Manufacturing Co. in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, will start 2017 with a new chief executive officer and continued work toward a $1 billion expansion throughout much of its operation.
Knudt Flor, formerly chief of BMW Group Corporate Quality, takes over from Manfred Erlacher, who after three years is returning to BMW operations in Germany.
While he hasn’t yet had much contact with Flor, BMW’s top executives have always proven to be great corporate citizens in South Carolina, says David Britt, Spartanburg County councilman and chairman of the Economic Development Committee. Many, in fact, have returned to the state to retire, Britt says. “This is a cycle we’ve seen with BMW where folks in a leadership capacity here are moved back to Germany after a few years to be on the company board or given some other key role.”
BMW’s investment in South Carolina supports more than 28, 000 jobs, or 1.6 percent of the statewide workforce. Its $1 billion expansion, stretching into 2017, includes construction and tooling of a new 1.2 million-square-foot body shop, a 200, 000-square-foot expansion of the X5/X6 assembly hall, and a 100, 000-square-foot addition to logistics.
Already, the expansion has grown production capacity to 450, 000 units per year and increased the workforce to 8, 800 jobs on site. The plant, which represents an $8 billion investment, produces the X3 and X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and the X4 and X6 Sports Activity Coupe on a 1, 150-acre, 5 million-square-foot campus. The BMW campus generates its own power, offers an on-site Family Health Center and provides 24-hour security and firefighting personnel.
Spartanburg is BMW’s first full manufacturing facility outside Germany and first U.S. production facility. According to the company website, it holds the title for fastest factory start-up in automotive history — just 23 months from site groundbreaking to the point where the first car was produced.
BMW, for Spartanburg, has been the gift that keeps on giving, Britt says, and it now has suppliers in 30 counties. “They’re great corporate citizens. They keep their heads down and make the greatest cars in the world.”
Text by Dave Helms