By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
International flavor
Firms from Germany find home in Forsyth
From left, Chris Lawrence, TROX president and CEO and Hines Trox, owner. - photo by Submitted
With the recent expansion of Kemper, Forsyth County is home to 10 thriving, German companies.

“It’s a good growth story to tell,” said Brian Dill, vice president of economic development for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

“The growth opportunities that are up here in terms of client development and the ability to get profitability quick is ... a factor, as well as quality of life issues.”

Kemper has had its U.S. headquarters in Georgia for 13 years, starting in Norcross, then moving to Alpharetta. Three months ago, the company relocated to Forsyth for more space.

“It’s been an absolutely great move, because our business picked up and it just seems the air is much better here,” said Ben Howell, Kemper’s president and chief executive officer.

“We’re probably going to manufacture here to keep us in the U.S. market, and that’s a good thing.”

The company develops, manufactures and distributes equipment that extracts smoke and debris from workspace for welders.

Howell said adding a manufacturing component to the Forsyth location could add 10 to 15 employees to the current five-person work force.

It currently takes four to six weeks for the company to ship and transport equipment to its U.S. clients.

A local manufacturing base, however, could trim that wait time to just a few days for buyers, including Frigidaire, MARTA, Caterpillar and various branches of the armed forces.

Kemper is not the only German success story.

TROX USA, which creates low-energy air conditioning and ventilation, has been doing business in Forsyth since 2000, operating a small factory unit that handles light assembly.

Last week, TROX officially opened its first U.S. factory in Forsyth, which is now in full-scale production. The company has 15 factories worldwide, said Chris Lawrence, TROX President and CEO.

“It’s really been a matter of the company being there at the right place at the right time ... for the products we sell and America wanting to go clean,” he said. “We’re very pleased to be here and we’re very pleased the company is growing. And as we grow we will expand and take on more employees.”

When Lawrence first came to the U.S. location in 2004, there were six employees. He said that has grown to about 35, many of whom already lived in the Forsyth area.

TROX and Kemper’s stories are shared with about 30 other internationally-based companies which call Forsyth home.

Both German companies found the county without any help, but others were recruited by the chamber.

Dill said the organization’s international efforts will continue through networking and building contacts.

With the value of the U.S. dollar dropping, Dill said there’s a lot of international movement.

“We have to capitalize on that,” he said. “My positive takeaway is we have a community that is strong enough to support international investment and it’s been proven time and time again.”

For Lawrence, the appeal was available space, but also because Forsyth is “a really nice place to live and work.”

“You get a lot for your money ... and there’s a good level of labor source here and people that want to work hard. And that’s what keeps us here.”