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WNC Business

Recent celebration of manufacturing hosted at Freudenberg Performance Materials

Jun 13, 2024 03:34PM ● By Randee Brown

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Manufacturing Morning series is a celebration of the power of American manufacturing in the local community. This industry drives a $24 billion gross regional product in the four counties in the Asheville-Metro area, and supports over 26,000 households in the Metro region. This industry offers some of the highest wages in Western North Carolina, manufacturing products including automotive parts, jet engine components, satellite communications components, medical devices, and much more.

June’s Manufacturing Mornings event was held at Freudenberg Performance Materials in Candler. Headquartered in Germany, Freudenberg employs about 50,000 individuals across 33 manufacturing locations in 14 countries, and approximately 180 of those employees are located in Buncombe County. They produce about 22 million pounds of yarn and 100 million square yards of fleecing materials each year, serving markets including building and civil engineering materials, healthcare, and apparel, according to Operations Manager Donnie Phelps.

Like many companies, Freudenberg’s current challenges include supply chain and workforce issues. While much of the company’s raw materials are domestically-sourced, some items must come from overseas, and the cost of those materials is rising along with shipping timelines. These costs can be offset with higher prices for their customers, and Phelps said the company maintains its dedication to quality and excellence in both products and service helps balance production costs.

Despite a variety of ownership changes over the years, many of the company’s local employees have tenures of 15, 20, or even 30 years. Phelps said the company’s dedication to safety and family focus as well as its leading principles of leadership, responsibility, people, innovation, value for customers, and long-term orientation encourages employees to maintain their careers at Freudenberg. With a continuous awareness on the company’s recruitment need, Freudenberg hosts several Sumer interns from a variety of regional colleges and universities and converses with local educational institutions to build awareness of opportunities at their facility.