Columbia County: Counter-Trend - Insourcing
Last May, when Indian businessman Gurdeep Soni came to Columbia County's Horizon North Industrial Park for a groundbreaking ceremony, he brought a small vial of water taken from near the headquarters of his New Delhi corporation, Uniparts.
In a gesture of blessing, the water was sprinkled on the ground at the site of Uniparts' new warehouse and assembly facility in Grovetown near the company's top customer, John Deere Commercial Products. The groundbreaking participants also removed their shoes and stood, an act of connecting body and earth. Finally, prayers were said.
And some prayers may have been answered. The company's 40,000-square-foot warehouse has opened and company officials believe it will more than double in size during the first two years. By assembling parts in the United States, this foreign company is opening up exciting new possibilities.
"This sends a clear message that outsourcing [from the United States] to countries all over the world may be a trend but it is a trend that can be reversed," says Uniparts operations manager Lester Lawrence, who grew up in the Columbia County area. "The 50 jobs that could have gone to India are 50 jobs that are coming here."
Those jobs will be necessary to get Uniparts products to the customer that brought them here, John Deere. Lawrence expects the giant tractor company to receive 250,000 parts from his company in the first year of their relationship, which began in October. Uniparts has signed a delivery contract with another Georgia tractor producer, Kubota. And already, two foreign-based companies seeking to share their warehouse space have approached Uniparts.
"This is the first time we've seen an India-based company coming into this part of Georgia," Lawrence says. "There will be more."