Press Release

Three Companies Named Georgia's 2019 Manufacturers of Year

P&G, Briggs & Stratton Corporation, and Erdrich USA Inc. take home this year's honors at 25th anniversary of annual event

ATLANTA – April 18, 2019 -- At a luncheon held today, Gov. Brian Kemp named three of Georgia's leading companies as the 2019 Manufacturers of the Year, the 25th anniversary of the annual event. P&G in Albany, Ga., won in the category of 500 or more employees; Briggs & Stratton Corporation in Statesboro, Ga., won in the category of 150-500 employees; and Dublin, Ga.-based Erdrich USA Inc. won in the category of 150 or fewer employees.

"These three companies represent the best Georgia has to offer for manufacturing in the state, providing great jobs and being great community leaders," Gov. Kemp said in his keynote address to the audience of more than 1,200 business and industry leaders attending the celebration at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, Ga.

"I want to thank not only these three winning manufacturing companies, but the employees who do the good work at those companies," Kemp added. "They are the reason Georgia has led the nation, for the past six years running, as the best state in the U.S. for doing business."

The event was co-hosted by Commissioner Matt Arthur of the Technical College System of Georgia and Amy Carter, Deputy Commissioner for Rural Georgia Initiatives at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The luncheon was emceed by Richard Warner, veteran business journalist and commentator.

Werhner Washington, plant manager at P&G’s Albany plant, which makes paper towel and tissue paper, including brands Charmin and Bounty, thanked the community leaders of Albany and Dougherty County for their support over the years, but said the plant’s success would not happen without its employees. "It is an honor and privilege to serve you," he said.

He also thanked Albany Technical College and Georgia Quick Start. "Over the past year, our company shifted about 5 million cases of Charmin and Bounty production line to our Albany plant," he said.

Quick Start designed and executed a training program to help for new hires to meet that demand, Washington said. "It is a tremendous resource for the manufacturers of Georgia."

"About a year and a half ago, we began work on our Vanguard program," said James Suchovsky, Statesboro plant manager of Briggs & Stratton, the world's largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, including the newest production of its V-Twin Vanguard engines. Bulloch County and State of Georgia leaders helped ensure Briggs & Stratton's Statesboro plant "would be the place to make what we needed to."

Briggs & Stratton also praised the support the company has received from Quick Start and Ogeechee Technical College. "Quick Start has always helped us with training plans to ensure we have the skills needed to make engines. We look forward to many years of collaboration."

"The story of Erdrich in Georgia started in 2012," said Friedrich Renoth, chief operating officer and plant manager of Erdrich, which uses metal stamping equipment to make parts for the automotive industry. "To get to this point, we needed a recipe of several things."

The ingredients for the recipe included the energy for the German-based company to open a plant in the U.S. and the wisdom to come to Georgia, he said. The recipe also included the support of partners such as Georgia Quick Start, which helped train 150 employees, and Oconee Fall Line Technical College, where Erdrich has begun an apprenticeship program, he added.

Renoth also thanked Georgia Quick Start, which helped train all new hires when it opened in 2013, and Oconee Fall Line Technical College.

This is the 25th year celebrating Manufacturing Appreciation Week in Georgia. This year's was sponsored by Aprio, GaMEP (Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership), a part of Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Power and the Georgia Association of Manufacturers.

The event also included the presentation of scholarship awards to the 12 winning entries in the statewide MAW Student Design Contest. Thousands of students each year from three grade levels submit work to the contest, and four winners are picked from each category: K - 5th grade; 6th - 8th grade; and 9th - 12th grade. The contest promotes the importance of manufacturing to the students' communities, and the potential for students to find fulfilling careers in that sector of the economy.

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