American LaFrance Corporation announced today that its corporate headquarters and Cleveland, N.C., manufacturing operations will move to North Charleston, S.C., by 2003.
The 170 year-old fire truck manufacturing company will centralize sales, engineering, purchasing, customer support and some manufacturing functions at a state-of-the-art plant owned by American LaFrance’s parent company, Freightliner LLC. Freightliner LLC acquired the North Charleston plant in 2000 when it purchased Western Star Trucks Holdings. This plant was idled in late 2000 as the North American truck market declined.
The move affects about 210 Cleveland-based employees, including 60 salaried and 150 hourly production positions. Headquarters employees and customer support operations will relocate by August. Manufacturing operations including custom cab and final truck assembly and the American LaFrance fire truck museum collection will follow by first quarter 2003. Chassis production at the Freightliner Cleveland Truck Manufacturing Plant and the American LaFrance Service Center will remain in Cleveland. Production employees who choose not to relocate will be given an alternative opportunity to re-integrate with the Cleveland Truck Plant workforce to positions and shifts in recognition of their overall company seniority.
American LaFrance ladder, fire truck and ambulance production will continue in the company’s six other manufacturing facilities located across the U.S. The existing North Charleston facility is situated on a 90-acre site. American LaFrance will occupy a 283,500 square-foot building and has plans to add an additional 100,000 feet of manufacturing space in the future. Currently, about 40 employees produce MedicMaster brand ambulances and aluminum American LaFrance fire truck bodies at the North Charleston plant.
“We have great confidence in American LaFrance’s ability to continue to expand its presence in the fire and emergency services industry and this move is clear evidence that Freightliner intends to grow American LaFrance well beyond what it is today,” said Roger Nielsen, Freightliner LLC Chief Operating Officer. “Our company is dedicated to supporting North American fire and emergency services departments and this outstanding manufacturing plant will be a real asset to American LaFrance in serving its customers.”