March 2, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Wise Expansion Means More Jobs

By Bernie Delinski
The Times-Daily

Some 100 million aluminum cans were consumed in the United States 10 years ago.

Since then, that number has declined, and is at 94 billion cans per year, said Wes Oberholzer, executive vice president and chief operating office for Wise Alloys.

Yet, Wise is thriving these days, thanks in part to valuable long-term contracts. But Oberholzer said Wise has another major factor in its favor: the Shoals, which is where the company now has its corporate headquarters.

"Nearly 100 percent of our success is attributable to the quality of workforce in the Shoals who turn out a product that at minimum is adequate, and most customers say our coil is the one they prefer to run," Oberholzer said. "That is attributable to the people who live here and work here."

Wise officials will cut the ribbon to the latest example of the company's success in the area: a $25 million addition to the Alabama Reclamation Operation off of Ford Road.

The expansion brings 43 jobs with it, said Sandra Scarbrough, vice president over human resources.

Wise has about 1,200 workers at its Shoals operations, Scarbrough said. That's the vast majority of the company's 1,400 employees nationwide.

"The real key to our success is our employees," she said. "They are highly skilled and hard working."

David F. D'Addario, Wise's chairman and chief executive officer, announced in 2011 that the company's home office would move from Baltimore to the Shoals.

"That was a milestone for our company when Mr. D'Addario made the decision to move our corporate headquarters here," Scarbrough said.

She said support from the Retirement Systems of Alabama and Gov. Robert Bentley helped with that decision.

RSA invested about $206 million into Wise Alloys in efforts to stabilize operations in previous years when the company was struggling. Since that time, Wise has enjoyed major long-term contracts with various companies, including Anheuser-Busch InBev and Coca-Cola Co.

The local Wise plant includes the Total Maintenance Center and Alabama Electric Motors Services. Scarbrough said there also is an Alabama Electric Motors plant in Mobile and eight recycling locations throughout seven states.

The InBev agreement is one that particularly has been a key.

Oberholzer said beer-can makers have maintained their business share over the past 10 years, when others have lost ground.

He again stressed, however, that the product the workers are putting out is the reason for the success. The companies they contract with have highly automated machines that produce cans quickly. A bad product would prohibit the machines from working to their full level.

"Our product is 100 percent destructively tested," Oberholzer said. "Our rejection rates are some of the (lowest) in the industry."

Forrest Wright, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, said Wise's presence has been essential for the area, so any expansion news is good for the community.

"Making a continued investment is critical for any company to remain competitive, and they continue to place that investment in our community," Wright said.
Oberholzer said the company continues to gain strength.

"We're not only maintaining existing relationships, but forging new relationships that are making this business stronger and more viable, almost by the month," he said. "Commercially, we're stronger today than any time in Wise's 11-year history here."

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