Automotive supplier Flex-N-Gate Corp. is spending more than $175 million to expand into a new 430,188-square-foot manufacturing plant in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Approximately $70 million is going toward the purchase of new equipment for injection molding, metal stamping and automated robotic metal welding to increase manufacturing volume, said Mellissa Kendall, director of energy at Flex-N-Gate.
The project includes an estimated 50,000-square-foot addition to accommodate new offices, break rooms, lab areas and utilities, according to the Grand Prairie Economic Development Department.
Flex-N-Gate is relocating 172 employees from manufacturing operations in Arlington, Texas, to Grand Prairie, with plans to hire an additional 500 workers by 2020. The Arlington site will be closed, Kendall said.
The relocation will start June 30, with production up and running on July 2. The company is also moving its corporate offices in Arlington to the Grand Prairie facility by December.
"It's going to be in two phases because right now we're adding so much infrastructure to the Grand Prairie building because it's a big shell building right now, and so the first phase is to move the production line that's in Arlington to the Grand Prairie location," said Terry Jones, business manager of industrial recruitment and retention at Grand Prairie's Economic Development Department.
"The equipment is being moved first. That was our goal because they have to be up and running in full production once they move it in two days," she added. "So, what we've been concentrating on is just getting that portion of the Grand Prairie building ready to take the equipment that they currently have."
The much larger Grand Prairie building will house sequencing equipment from the Arlington site as well as injection molding and steel stamping operations to accommodate new work from General Motors, Kendall said.
The factory will also be used for the assembly of front and rear plastic bumpers for the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. The vehicles are manufactured at GM's assembly plant in Arlington, Texas.
The Grand Prairie site will supply the auto parts directly to GM.
"This project is important because it's proof that the automotive business is thriving," Kendall said.
The City of Grand Prairie offered Flex-N-Gate a nine-year, 75 percent property tax abatement.
"[The investment] really is a testament to the partnerships that we've formed with Flex-N-Gate," Jones said. "It has become a community effort."
Flex-N-Gate bought the Grand Prairie building in 2017.
"It's a short move to Grand Prairie, but a major step forward for Flex-N-Gate and our current employees, and great news for hundreds of Texas workers who can become part of our Flex-N-Gate team in the years just ahead," Illinois billionaire Shahid Khan, Flex-N-Gate owner, said in a statement.
"We're extremely grateful to everyone at Grand Prairie Economic Development and all of its parts who share our goals of creating jobs and building careers in the automotive parts industry," he said, adding that the automotive business is "strong and growing."
Flex-N-Gate is headquartered in Urbana, Ill., and employs more than 26,000 at 62 sites worldwide.
The auto parts giant is also building a $160 million parts plant in Detroit that will make metal and plastic parts for Ford Motor Co. The factory is slated to open this fall with 400 employees.