JEFFERSON —American Emergency Vehicles is now one step closer towards their goal of expanding into the old Gates facility in Jefferson thanks to help from the Ashe County Board of Commissioners.
On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved a $108,000 incentive package. Here’s what you need to know.
Cathy Barr, Director of Economic Development, says the funds for the incentive will come directly from the county’s economic development fund and accompany the nearly $4 million that AEV will invest to renovate the old Gates facility.
According to Barr, the facility features 200,000-square feet of space that doesn’t quite match up to what AEV needs but the economic development incentive could help them get it up to their standards by the end of 2016.
Since the 1990s, AEV has grown from less than 50 employees to more than 400 today, a number that will continue to grow with the company’s plans to expand into the second facility.
Barr says AEV will have until 2017 to hire 60 total employees per the incentive agreement.
Because money for the incentive is coming from county funds, a public hearing was held on Tuesday, Jan. 19 before commissioners voted in favor of granting AEV the incentive.
Barr spoke to commissioners about AEV’s impact on Ashe County prior to opening Tuesday’s public hearing.
“They had a significant impact on our economy,” Barr said. “Besides adding jobs, they spend a million dollars a year on local vendors and $700,000 a year with subcontractors.”
Greg Warmuth, AEV Vice President of Finance, was the only one to speak during the hearing.
According to Warmuth, AEV’s future is bright and the company has more business than they can handle right now.
“I want to thank you for your backing and your support for what we’re trying to do both for the company and employees but also for the community,” Warmuth said.
The 60 jobs
Warmuth previously stated that the company plans to transition 60 of their current temporary employees to permanent, full-time positions.
Out of more than a dozen nationwide manufacturing divisions of AEV’s parent company, REV Group, AEV has the lowest employee turnover and the best safety record and productivity levels — all factors to why they will be able to transition those employees.
“These jobs could have gone anywhere,” Barr said. “But because of our high quality workforce, AEV out performs other divisions in productivity, quality and safety.”
A new face for AEV
After more than 40 years in the ambulance business, AEV’s longtime President Mark Van Arnam officially retired on Friday, Jan. 15, passing the torch along to Randy Hanson, former Executive Vice President of Operations.
“The face of AEV may be retiring but the heart of AEV is not,” Warmuth said. “The heart of AEV is the employees of that company and everybody still has a strong belief in what we do and what we are able to do.”
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers