Hawkins County to be home to RMC Advanced Technologies US headquarters


Photo above: Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bobby Rolfe, right, and Sigma Industries, Inc., CEO Denis Bertrand flank an artist’s rendering of the Surgoinsville spec building. Clay Walker, Networks Sullivan Partnership is at far left.

A Quebec-based advanced manufacturing company will locate its U.S headquarters and establish a manufacturing facility in Surgoinsville. RMC Advanced Technologies officials made the announcement May 16. The composite components manufacturer will invest $7 million and create 54 new jobs in Hawkins County.“At the end of the day, Surgoinsville will become our head office,” Denis Bertrand, president of Sigma Industries, the parent company of RMC, said. “It will become the base of our expansion in Tennessee. We have a multiple-year plan starting today in Surgoinsville.”RMC, a subsidiary of Sigma Industries Inc., produces and sells composite components. The company offers products for the heavy-duty truck, coach, transit and bus, machinery, agriculture and wind energy markets.“This location in the U.S. represents an important strategic milestone for us,” Bertrand said. “It is the first step in our strategy to grow our operations in the U.S. market. In essence, it will allow us to better serve existing customers while providing us with the opportunity to grow our business in a market of significant size. Furthermore, we are proud to be in a position to serve our transit industry customers with Buy America compliant products.“Here we will be closer to the customer base we have today,” Bertrand said, noting that RMC serves companies including Volvo Trucks in the New River Valley just up Interstate 81 in Southwest Virginia. “We also serve Freightliner, GLG and Paccar –the Kenworth division and the Peterbilt division. This puts us within 200 to 250 miles of our major customers. This also gives us the possibility of developing another 60-70 new customers in different industries, either on the automotive side or the windmill side. There is also opportunity on the aerospace side with Airbus and Boeing in the Carolinas. The good thing for us is that we manufacture 80 percent of all composites. We do pultrusions. We do injections. We do SNC. So the opportunities are great in this part of the world for us.”

The RMC manufacturing operations in Hawkins County will be highly automated, Bertrand said, requiring a highly trained workforce. Citing the presence of a Tennessee Center for Applied Technology less than a mile away, and already having met with Jeff McCord of Northeast State Community College’s Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Bertrand said, “I had a great discussion last night on how this area with the community college and technical center will help our organization go to the next step. This was really, really important to us.”Larry Elkins, chairman of the Hawkins County Industrial Board said, “A company like this was exactly what we envisioned to locate in the spec building in Phipps Bend Industrial Park. The quality of jobs RMC will bring to Hawkins County speaks volumes about the company and what it will provide to our community.”

 “This is going to be heavy in robotics,” said Clay Walker, CEO of Networks Sullivan Partnership. “This is going to be the kind of company that when we want to get our kids excited about manufacturing, we’re going to bring them here. When they see all the robots running all around the floor, all the high-tech, and the working conditions, they’re going to say, ‘Whoa! That’s manufacturing? Where do I sign up for it?’”

The shell building RMC will occupy was built on spec several years ago. It will require some work to be ready, Bertrand said. “We are looking, I would say, by the end of this year to have the floor in and to relocate some equipment by Christmas. The intent is to start up full production by the end of the first quarter of next year.”

The company plans to start hiring in mid-November, Bertrand said. “We’ll get the training programs set up with the technical college people and have our people coming in January and “We have been looking for years on expanding our headquarters,” Bertrand continued. “We have one in Canada which has been there for 40 years. We were looking to expand not only the management and the executives into the US, but also the hiring from the US. So having a headquarters here opens that opportunity. If you just have a plant in place, you can get great people, but we’re looking at getting an executive staff here to really drive the customer base around this area.”

The road from Quebec to Surgoinsville was somewhat circuitous. It led through Nashville by way of Lori Odom, an economic developer with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce who had previously worked with RMC’s site selection firm, Creek & Rogers. “It was all about existing buildings for RMC,” Jim Rogers said. “Lori put together a notebook of existing buildings in Tennessee and this site was in that notebook.”

“Team Tennessee worked together on this,” Rogers said. “We looked at sites in three states and not all of them worked together as well as Tennessee did. So even though this was not Nashville, Lori was happy to say, ‘there’s a great building in Hawkins County.’ Connecting to our client’s customer who’s right along Interstate 81 in Virginia, that proximity brought us here.”

Creek & Rogers serves primarily Canadian companies, and Northeast Tennessee economic developers hope to be able to leverage this deal into other Canada-Tennessee connections. Sigma Industries Inc. was founded in 2005 and is based in Saint-Ephrem-de-Beauce, Quebec, Canada.“I want to welcome RMC to Hawkins County and thank the company for choosing to locate its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility in Surgoinsville,” Tennessee Commissioner of Economic & Community Development Director Bobby Rolfe said. “It means a great deal that another international-based company has chosen our state for its new operations. Tennessee is home to more than 70 Canadian-owned companies that employ approximately 8,000 Tennesseans and we appreciate RMC for creating 54 new jobs in our state and Surgoinsville.”


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