German firm coming to Dandridge, Tennessee

 Wetekam Monofilaments plans on creating 32 jobs

Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 12:00 am Jefferson Standard Banner, Serving Jefferson County since 1928

Wetekam Monofilaments USA, LP announced Friday that it has purchased a 93,000 square foot facility in the Jefferson County Industrial Park in Dandridge, where it will manufacture industrial monofilament yarns through a high tech extrusion process. The company plans to hire 32 workers and invest several million dollars.

Paperwork was finalized Friday morning by the Industrial Development Board, which approved a five-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement for the purchase of the former Fibre Craft building in the County Industrial Park in Dandridge. The building will be renovated by Wetekam, and fitted with its manufacturing equipment, with the aim of starting production by next spring.

“We are excited about expanding to Dandridge and opening our first United States manufacturing facility,” said Karl Wetekam, CEO of Dr Karl Wetekam & CO KG, the U.S. operation’s parent company.

“We have been in business for almost 50 years in Germany and have seen our product lines and international markets grow. The Jefferson County facility will better serve our existing North American customers and help expand our U.S. customer base.”

As part of the PILOT agreement, Wetekam guarantees at least 25 jobs, and projects to fill at least half with Jefferson County residents. The five-year tax abatement, which takes effect January 1, 2015, provides that the company will pay no taxes the first two years, 25 percent in the third year, 50 percent in the fourth, and 75 percent in the fifth year. After that period, the company will pay 100 percent of taxes owed on both the property, and manufacturing equipment that is installed between now and the end of 2014.

The agreement was approved unanimously by members of the Industrial Board at their Friday morning meeting. “We appreciate you choosing Jefferson County,” IDB Chairman Larry Masters told Lars Jackel, Wetekam’s representative at Friday’s meeting. “Wetekam seems like a really good fit for our community.”

Established in 1965, Wetekam Monofilaments is one of the largest monofilament yarn manufacturers in Europe. Currently, 45 percent of its production is for export; with 30 percent of production estimated to be for the North American market. The Jefferson County facility will assume production responsibilities for U.S., Canadian, and South American customers.

“Dandridge is delighted to welcome Wetekam Monofilaments,” said Dandridge Mayor George Gantte. “This is a family-owned company that appreciates traditional business values and acumen. That matches the strong work ethic, traditional values, and family principles that the citizens of Jefferson County hold so dear. Together, the company executives and the local workers will make Wetekam a successful business and a strong corporate citizen.”

In Germany Wetekam operates an in-house laboratory and technical facilities to perform tests required by customers to determine exact properties including strength and flexibility. A similar lab will be a part of the Dandridge plant. With its technologies and highly developed production methods Wetekam individually optimizes products that have been customized according to customer specifications. Wetekam Monofilaments yarns are used by a broad range of manufacturers in a variety of products. Customers are technical weavers, braiders, tufters and knitters. Important industries supplied are automotive, medical, sport (turf, tennis racket strings, fishing line), and upholstery, among others.

Wetekam Monofilaments is characterized by a dedicated understanding of the end performance of the final product. This is one important reason that Wetekam turf yarn has been installed in several major U.S. sports stadiums.

“Recruiting Wetekam Monofilaments to Jefferson County was a team effort,” said Jefferson County Mayor Alan Palmieri. “I want to thank Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Northeast Tennessee Valley Regional Industrial Development Association, Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development, and Tennessee Valley Authority for their partnership. We look forward to working with the company’s leadership as they hire employees and begin operations. And I know we will all continue to support Wetekam as they grow here in Jefferson County.”

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