Almost 550 employees working in Getrag Corp.'s Maiden axle manufacturing facility are no longer working for the German-based company.
Instead, when they arrived at work Monday, they walked into buildings operating under the new name GKN Driveline, a 252-year-old British industrial company.
Approved in July, a $440 million acquisition of Getrag, including two North America locations, makes GKN Driveline a world leading producer of automotive components used in all-wheel drive vehicles and eDrive systems.
"GKN Driveline is the world leading supplier of driveline propulsion," said Max Owen, managing director of GKN Americas. "We are the only company that can connect the transmission to the wheel, and that puts us in a good position. ... We basically supply every single vehicle manufacturer. Everybody who is anybody, we supply them with product."
By acquiring Getrag, GKN Driveline adds General Motors, Volvo and Land Rover to its client portfolio which already includes Mitsubishi and Nissan among many others. A company with $8.3 billion in worldwide sales annually, GKN companies employ about 40,000 people in 30 countries. Already GKN operates a powder metal production facility in Conover, GKN Sinter.
"We are strengthened a lot by this transition," Owen said during a press meeting on Monday. "This allows us the ability to support customers with new technology and co-develop new generation technology for our customers."
During the weekend, signs outside the former Getrag facility between Newton and Maiden was modified to promote the company's new owner, and on Monday, the operation on Getrag Parkway held a celebration for employees to announce news many had been privy to since the summer. GKN Driveline executives also met with the company's employees to discuss the transition — a change which, on the short-term, won't mean any reduction in workforce.
"Our message to employees has been this is a great business ... Your performance is strong and it is one of the reasons the company was interested in the acquisition," Owen said. "Your performance is strong, you are good at what you do, keep doing it."
Meanwhile, as Owen said the automotive business is showing a strong rebound in North America, there is a potential for growth.
"A key strategy is by combining Getrag's technology and our customer base, together it should enhance opportunities - that normally means growth," said Jim Voeffray, sales and marketing director of GKN Driveline. "GKN is buying the business to grow."
In addition to acquiring Getrag's facility in Catawba County, GKN Driveline also obtained production facilities in Sterling Heights, Mich., Sweden and Germany. All total about 1,500 employees now join GKN Driveline.
"This is a very exciting move in the strategic development of our driveline offering for vehicle manufacturers around the world," Voeffray said. "The acquisition will accelerate the growth of our capability and all-wheel drive and hybrid/electric drive trains around the globe."
In addition to all-wheel drive and eDrive systems, GKN Driveline has two product segments, including constant velocity join systems and trans-axle solutions. A global engineering group, GKN operates automotive, powder metallurgy, land systems and aerospace divisions around the world.