Briggs Equipment International President Mike Winemiller, second from left, cuts the ribbon to open the company’s new operations center in northwest Clayton County Friday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
ATLANTA — When Briggs Equipment opens the doors on its new 120,000-square-foot operations center in northwest Clayton County on Monday, it will mark a major investment in the county.
Officials from the Dallas-based company announced they have invested $7 million in the county by purchasing a building on Aviation Parkway that will house their Atlanta headquarters. They are moving from a location in Fulton County and bringing about 100 jobs with them.
“Welcome to our new home,” Regional Vice President Darrell Williams said. “We’re very excited about it. This has been a long journey and a lot of people have sacrificed a lot of their time to make this happen.”
But Clayton County could see a deeper investment from Briggs in the coming years. On top of the workforce who will move over from Fulton County, company officials said they expect to add as many as 30 new jobs over two years at the site. They said that could mean an additional $10 million investment.
But county officials, such as Economic Development Director Grant Wainscott, are happy to just see the $7 million Briggs has already put into the county through its move.
“The investment you have made here in Clayton County is important for us in a number of ways,” Wainscott said. “You join the growing list of global companies that have chosen the south metro market, the airport sub-market as we call it.”
“You have Clorox, Fresh Express, a lot of these companies are your clients so it’s really great when you can have a supply side, like Briggs Equipment, close to the customers that you serve,” he added.
Briggs International President Mike Winemiller said the new facility is part of Briggs’ expansion of its presence in the Atlanta market. He said the company has been in the Atlanta area for 15 years. He added that company leaders liked the Clayton County site because of its location, and because they feel its a safe area.
“What’s great about this facility is the highway access,” Winemiller said. “Most of our employees don’t work in the building. They work out in the field, so to be able to come here, get parts, get things and deliver equipment — this is a very central location. You can get to 85, 285, I mean you can get all around town from here.
“That was a big advantage,” he added.
The new facility is one of Briggs’ largest operations centers in the company, according to an announcement that went out earlier this week.
As a materials handling company, Briggs makes equipment, such as forklifts, that other companies use to move products around, Winemiller said.
“Our company is in the supply chain,” he said. “So to move a product. Anything you get. Everything you have. Your camera, your bag, your suit, your clothes moves on a pallet at one time. We supply equipment that moves that pallet, that puts it on a truck that puts it in a warehouse and gets it to the retail stores.”
But Briggs Chief Operating Officer Chris Meinecke said the company does other things besides produce forklifts. He said Briggs also produces equipment used to process products as they move through warehouses.
“Everything around that, the racking, the way it moves through the system, warehouse management, we would contribute to all of that and sell or rent of those different items,” Meinecke said.
Briggs held a ribbon cutting with county officials and representatives of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce on Friday morning. However, it is expected to hold another ribbon cutting early next year to signify that it has joined the chamber.
County officials are excited about Briggs’ move to the county and its planned growth in the community.
“We’re happy to have them in the community and happy to have them as business partners,” chamber President Yulonda Beauford said.
Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Turner told company leaders that he is looking forward to working with them in community partnerships. Company officials said they have supported organizations in the Atlanta area as a way of giving back to the communities in which they are located.
Winemiller also told county officials the company will open its community room and board room to county and community groups and organizations to use.
“When you talk about community involvement, that’s when a county starts to become great,” Turner said. “We have some growing to do in this county and we want you to be a part of that. We look forward to you being here, and if we can ever do anything for you, never hesitate to get with Grant, Yulonda or myself.
“We are going to make sure that you are a prosperous company here in Clayton County,” Turner added.