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New Fronius HQ: a promise of hundreds of jobs to Indiana

June 28, 2011

Austrian solar component and automotive supplier continues strong US expansion with new facility (from left to right: Wolfgang Niedrist, Gov. Mitch Daniels, Thomas Herndler, Mayor Olga Valazquez)

As one of the world's largest manufacturers of solar inverters, the privately held Austrian firm Fronius announced the relocation of its US headquarters to Portage, IN on June 23, 2011. Plans are to hire 100 people by next fall and increase to 500 jobs by 2016. Approximately 25 to 30 of its current employees at its Brighton, MI facility will also be transferred; with the remaining employees continuing, as it will be remain open as a sales and service center.

"If Fronius goes somewhere, we stay there forever," said Wolfgang Niedrist, Managing Director for Fronius USA, noting a lengthy search process which included determining a business-friendly climate and proximity to an international airport. "Our people are satisfied. At Fronius, the most valuable asset is our employee," Niedrist said. Fronius has marked its long-term commitment by purchasing the 400,000 square foot building and land, which will be remodeled to meet the company's needs. The plant should be in operation by January, 2013. Thomas Herndler, head of manufacturing for Fronius USA, said the Portage facility is the "biggest investment by the company outside of Austria" and is important "for a sunny future".

The announcement was organized by officials from Fronius to include about 300 people gathered inside the new facility in the Ameriplex at the Port Business Park. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Portage Mayor Olga Velazquez were joined by friends and guests, including Trade Commissioner Franz Roessler.

Solar inverters are a component in solar power systems that convert sunlight into electricity. The electricity can then be used to power homes and businesses or fed to the utility transmission grid. The inverter also monitors conditions within the transmission grid. According to industry estimates, Fronius has installed more than 350,000 inverters worldwide and is one of the four largest inverter manufacturers in the world.

Wels, Austria-based Fronius started in 1945 and also operates battery charging system manufacturing and welding technology divisions. The firm entered the US market in 2002 with a facility in Brighton, MI to focus on the local automobile industry as its initial target market. Fronius opened a sales and service office in Chattanooga, TN, in addition to new offices in six other countries in 2010. In April, 2011 Fronius started inverter production at a Canadian facility in Mississauga, Ontario.