Uzin Utz celebrates grand opening of its Dover manufacturing facility

 

DOVER — Sixteen months after Uzin Utz AG broke ground on its Dover facility — and four months after operations began — officials celebrated the grand opening of the Friday.

Founded in 1911, Uzin Utz AG is a German flooring company with products such as primers, compounds and adhesives. It employs nearly 1,000 people worldwide and has a presence in 48 countries.

The Dover facility, located at the Garrison Oak Technology Park near the edge of northeast Dover, is the company’s first U.S. plant.

At Tuesday’s Kent Economic Summit, Delaware Economic Development Office director Bernice Whaley praised state and local officials for enticing the company to settle in Dover, a theme echoed by speakers at Friday’s ceremony.

Companies have options, officials said, and government must be accommodating.

“And so the question is, what is it going to take for these business leaders to decide to come to Delaware?” said Gov. Jack Markell, who visited Germany on a trade mission recently.

“And there are lots of things, but in the end it’s really the skill level and the attitude of the people and whether they see in us a partner who is going to help them get things done or whether they see us as a bureaucracy who is insisting that they spend all their time filling out forms and waiting in line.

“And that’s really what this comes down to. And I will tell you that when I was in Germany last week, I had a lot of conversations with German business leaders and I was talking about the can-do attitude in Delaware and I think it’s something that is a real advantage for us, and it’s something that we have to continue.”

The state government gave Uzin Utz a $154,000 grant from the Strategic Fund, as well as a capital grant of up to $265,000, Ms. Whaley said after the ceremony. It also provided information on tax credits and other funding available through applications.

More than 100 people gathered outside the plant to listen to speakers, including Delaware and company officials. Among those in attendance were business executives flown in from Germany — a sign of the scale of the ceremony.

German and American flags were planted in the grass nearby, and servers presented champagne to guests. One employee even wore a traditional German dress (a dirndl), calling to mind Oktoberfest.

Officials praised the connection between Germany and Delaware and spoke excitedly of the potential for the new plant.

Uzin Utz, which Ms. Whaley said Tuesday has added 23 jobs, began looking for a new American facility in 2011. Philipp Utz, president of Uzin Utz Manufacturing North America Inc., visited seven states to find a suitable location and was struck by Delaware’s friendly tax structure and commitment to the company.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., praised Germany as a “manufacturing powerhouse” and spoke kindly of the country’s education and workforce training, areas from which the United States could learn, he said.

“Today, you see the concrete results of a competition where a world leader in solvent-free adhesives with a very low environmental footprint, a very high quality reputation and a global brand chose Delaware, chose Dover because of the workforce, because of the responsiveness, because of the leadership,” said Delaware’s junion senator.

The 64,000-square-foot plant will produce floor leveling and patching compounds. It also will host administration and research departments.

The land the facility sits on was once farmed by the Garrison family. Dover bought the 380-acre parcel in 1999 with $2 million in state funding and eventually began turning it into a technology park. A solar plant and a power plant have since been opened there, with 11 vacant lots still available.

Gov. Markell urged Uzin Utz’s executives to spread the word about the First State.

“You have given us a great gift by investing in this facility, and now it’s up to us to deliver for you, to do all the things that we say we’re going to do, which means making sure you have access to the highest-quality workforce,” he said.

Uzin Utz is not the first German organization to build a location in Delaware. Fraunhofer USA’s Center for Molecular Biotechnology is based in Newark, and employees at the lab work with the University of Delaware.

Officials handed out praise repeatedly Friday.

“This is a win. This is a win for Delaware that is a reminder that when we put our best face forward, our best foot forward, we can win,” Sen. Coons said. “And a company that comes from a country with a culture of craft and a respect for precision and efficiency and good manufacturing that also helps the environment can choose Dover, Delaware, as their next site. We should all be encouraged by this, and we should all say welcome.”

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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