Generating new business
Published 11:25 pm Friday, November 22, 2013
Grandwatt Electric Corporation is hoping to generate some business from its new location on Obici Industrial Boulevard.
It is the first North American location for Chinese company Shenzhen Superwatt Power International Co. Ltd. The Suffolk location held a grand opening on Friday and will custom-build generators and light towers — merely generators with lights attached — in the 30,525-square-foot building.
The company just won a three-year contract with North Carolina Department of Transportation and is pursuing local clients as well.
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Tom Baise, plant manager, said the location currently has a staff of 12.
“That’s probably going to grow along with expansion,” he said.
Sales also will be done from the building’s office space. The entire building is enclosed by a fence topped with barbed wire because the site has applied to become a foreign trade zone, Baise said.
For Grandwatt, that means, for example, the company can import parts and export completed products that don’t meet American regulations. But it also means more stringent inventory control procedures.
“Every nut and bolt is accounted for,” Baise said.
Although the company is seeking a distributor to be able to sell its smaller generators in retail stores, that isn’t its niche market, Baise said. Custom orders are its specialty, and the customer dictates everything down to the paint color of the outer shell.
“It’s all about the customer,” Baise said. “We are build-to-order.”
Baise said the company chose the Suffolk location over other sites it scrutinized, including one in North Carolina, because of its proximity to the port and a heavy bonus in the building — two full-building-length cranes that can lift 10 tons each. They were left over from DLBA Robotics, which formerly occupied the building but moved to a smaller space in Hampton.
David Du, president of the company, said Friday before cutting a ribbon with the mayor and other city officials that he was excited to officially open the facility.
“May Grandwatt and Suffolk have many years of success together,” he said.
Mayor Linda T. Johnson said the city appreciates the company is bringing good manufacturing jobs with wages that can support a family.
“We’re here to help you and to watch you grow,” she said.