Posted: Monday, September 23rd 2013 at 1:04pm
Czech company joins Hall Co. international biz ventures
By Marc Eggers Staff
OAKWOOD – A drive through the industrial parks of Oakwood can, at times, seem a bit like a drive along Embassy Row near the State Department in Washington, DC, or the United Nations complex on Manhattan's east side. Flags from companies headquartered in places such as Germany, Japan, Italy, and the Netherlands are visible from the street.
So when on Monday morning an oversized black Ford Excursion with heavily tinted windows pulls into a parking lot along Rafe Banks Drive in the Oakwood South Industrial Park and the Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic joined by their Ambassador to the United States step out and are immediately greeted by Georgia's Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle, it is not totally unexpected.
Just another in a series of international investments being made in our area, fostered by local administrators and courted by groups such as the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. These dignitaries had traveled to Oakwood for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of ALBAform, Inc.
But the route ALBAform, Inc. has taken to end up at their new headquarters in Hall County is a bit unique. More on that shortly.
ALBAform, Inc. manufactures custom metal components for the automotive industry and is the first Czech production company to venture capital in the state of Georgia. Their investment of $2.5 million will lead to the eventual employment of 30 or more workers. That's great news for our area.
Czech Foreign Minister (a position similar to that of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton) Jan Kohout had just flown in from Prague and Ambassador Petr Gandalovic had made the trip from Washington, DC, to be a part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony; a high level of participation by the Czech government to say the least.
But the spark that ignited the decision by the parent company ALBA-METAL, a family owned company based in Ladná, Czech Republic, began many years ago when three college coeds first met while students at Schiller International University.
Monika Vintrlikova, Lindsay Roseler, and Kelly O'Donnell studied together as part of the Florida-based school's international studies program. And they have remained in touch since.
Monika's family owned ALBA-METAL. Kelly was the connection when ALBA-METAL decided to move some of their production resources to the United States to be closer to the new assembly plants that European carmakers were building in the southeast. Kelly lives in Texas and it was there that ALBAform, Inc. secured their corporate charter.
Subsequent to that the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce was able to help attract ALBAform, Inc. to Hall County.
But who would head up the new Georgia operation? That's where Lindsay entered the ALBA picture.
"In the middle of 2012 I got a Facebook message from Monika," Ms. Roseler said, "asking me if I would be interested in managing ALBAform's new plant."
"Yes, I did get my job offer in a Facebook message," Roseler said to the laughter of the audience.
She moved from upstate New York to Hall County to assume the role of Chief Executive Officer on June 1st.
"But it's a prime example of what ALBA group stands for: family, friends and community. This is an ideal location...in the heart of the southeastern automotive corridor here in the US, deeply embedded in the booming industry of Hall County."
Powell attended a dinner the evening before hosted by the company's owners to celebrate ALBAform, Inc.'s move to Hall County. "It was nice last night to see how (they) respected each other's position...and the appreciation they had for being here...in the United States. It was refreshing to see that."
Vintrlikova added, "We had heard that this was the place to be and...there is a strong German community that works for (the) automotive (industry)...our customer is located in South Carolina and their second plant is in Alabama and we are right here in the middle."
"Georgia is just the right place to be!" Vintrlikova added. Who can argue with that position?
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