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Swedish firm taking over Bush Hog plant, 100 jobs may be saved

JEFF KEELING • Jun 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

TELFORD — Swedish engineering is coming to the Washington County Industrial Park, as agriculture equipment maker Bush Hog has found a company to take over production at its Telford plant, a move that could save more than 100 jobs. Selma, Ala.-based Bush Hog, which announced last month it would shutter the 7-year-old plant at the Washington County Industrial Park unless a buyer could be found, will turn production over to Alo AB, a Swedish company specializing in manufacture of frontloaders. The transaction is expected to be complete by mid-August. “It’s wonderful news,” Washington County Mayor George Jaynes said Thursday morning. “They (Alo) build a very good piece of equipment, and we’re honored that the plant won’t be closing.” “Under the agreement Alo will supply Bush Hog with loaders and related attachments,” a Bush Hog news release states. The release does not indicate whether Alo is buying the building or simply leasing it from Bush Hog. Alo sells its own “Quicke” and “Trima” brands but also “manufactures products for leading tractor manufacturers via OEM (original equipment manufacturer) agreements,” the release states. In the case of Bush Hog, Alo will build equipment that will bear the Bush Hog name. Alo is not obligated to hire any of the people still working at Bush Hog — the number totaled 141 in mid-May — but Jaynes said his understanding is that current employees already have been able to submit applications to Alo. “I’m sure they want to look over each one of them and make sure they get the best employees they possibly can to keep,” he said. “I hope they can keep the majority of all the employees.” Alo sold 34,000 front-end loaders and 55,000 attachments in 2008 and has about 600 employees working at five factories in three countries. Like Bush Hog, which opened the 330,000-square-foot Telford plant in 2002, it is owned by a private equity company (3i). Washington County Economic Development Board Director P.C. Snapp also welcomed the news. Snapp, who said he has heard projections of 150 to 175 jobs coming with the Alo production, said the success in finding an occupant confirms the industrial park’s viability. “We had a number of people over the years that wanted to build a spec building on 4 or 5 acres, but the county just wanted something better,” said Snapp, who with Jaynes was instrumental in pushing for development of the 100-acre park. He said the quality and newness of the Bush Hog facility helped convince Koyo and Nakatetsu, two related Japanese auto parts makers, to locate at the park, where they began operations last year. “Most buildings do not show as well as the Bush Hog building does, and I’ve had at least three national site selectors talk to me about it (since Bush Hog began marketing it),” Snapp said. Snapp said Alo is thought to need only about 60,000 square feet of the building, leaving open the possibility that it could house additional tenants — and jobs — at some point.

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