July 19, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Wise Taps Shoals for New Corporate Headquarters

Jim Hannon/TimesDaily
The three-story, brick building in the background will become corporate headquarters for Wise Metals Group, parent firm of Wise Alloys on Second Street in Muscle Shoals. The company announced 12 senior management officials will relocate to the Shoals.

Wise Metals Group is moving its corporate headquarters to the Shoals to be on the same campus with its largest subsidiary, Wise Alloys.

The transition is expected to be completed by the end of the year and possibly as early at October, company officials said Tuesday.

Corporate headquarters for Wise Metals now are in Baltimore.

Wise Alloys, an aluminum can sheet plant in Muscle Shoals, has been operating in the Shoals since April 1998 when it purchased the local operations from Reynolds Aluminum. Among Wise Alloys' largest contracts are Anheuser-Busch InBev and Coca-Cola. About 1,000 workers are employed at the plant.

A dozen of Wise Metals Group's senior management team are being transferred to the Shoals as part of the move, company officials said.

The announcement to move the headquarters to Alabama was made by Wise Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David D'Addario.

“Wise Metals Group's holdings are concentrated more and more in northwest Alabama and the southern United States,” D'Addario said.

“It makes sense to move our corporate headquarters to be near Wise Alloys, Alabama Reclamation Operations, Alabama Electric Motors, Total Maintenance Center and various recycling centers in the southeastern United States,” D'Addario said in a statement.

“Alabama has been good to us, and the Shoals area offers everything our company and our people need for the location of its corporate headquarters. We're delighted to make this move official.”

Wise Metals Group, which has about 1,200 employees nationwide, is the nation's second-leading producer of aluminum can stock for the beverage and food industries. Much of that work is done at the local plant.

D'Addario said they considered maintaining headquarters in Baltimore while also exploring options in Nashville, New York and Connecticut.

“In these days of enhanced communications and global travel, we could have moved our headquarters anywhere,” D'Addario noted in the statement. “It's nice to locate in a community like the Shoals, where we have had such a positive history and where there is such a strong work ethic and a good quality of life.

“We're thankful for the support we have received here.”

Wise Alloys has received financial support in recent years from the Retirement Systems of Alabama at times when the operation was on unstable financial footing. RSA has pumped about $500 million into the Colbert County operation. The investment in late 2009 allowed Wise Alloys to purchase equipment needed to land a multi-year contract with Anheuser-Busch InBev that is reportedly worth more than $1 billion.

“This is fantastic news for the region and state, and a phenomenal opportunity,” RSA Chief Executive Officer David Bronner said. “You literally die to get a corporate headquarters to your city. All business done by (Wise) now comes to that community, and anyone selling you stuff has to show up in the Shoals. They have to sleep somewhere, eat somewhere, rent a vehicle and purchase things when they are in town.

“When you have corporate headquarters in your area, the company is now a corporate citizen who cares about the area, not someone who comes in to make money and send it back to California, New York or wherever their corporate headquarters might be. This will make a huge impact in the Shoals over time.”

Bronner said he is convinced the financial situation at Wise is “super solid.” He said RSA provided money to Wise to help “carry their dream forward and solidify the company.”

Kerry Gatlin, dean of the College of Business at the University of North Alabama, said the move means Wise officials are confident in the Shoals.

“It says they see much of their future here with this facility, and they are bringing their top people in to be in this community,” Gatlin said. “This would say to me they see the Muscle Shoals facility as their primary facility, and that's a very good thing.”

Wise officials said about a dozen officials will relocate with the move.

“If there are 12 employees, those will be key people in the company,” Gatlin said. “It sends a good message to other businesses about the strength of that particular firm in our economy.”

Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford said having Wise bring the headquarters to the Shoals speaks volumes for the area.

“We can accommodate major industries who want to have their headquarters here,” Bradford said. “It shows what this company thinks of our area. Wise has made a significant investment in our community, and our community has made a significant investment in Wise.”

Company officials said they will renovate their current three-story, brick office complex to accommodate the senior managers who are part of the transfer.

“We are working to be a more efficient company in every area, and we're moving corporate officials nearer to the operations they work with,” said Wes Oberholzer, chief operating officer. “Some of the people in our existing corporate office will relocate to Raleigh, N.C. Having our top tier of management in the Shoals gives them access to the operating plants and is a cost-effective move for the company.”

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