01/23/18 — Manufacturer to move into Mount Olive facility

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Manufacturer to move into Mount Olive facility

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 23, 2018 5:50 AM

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Tiffany Creech, left, existing industry manager for the Wayne County Development Alliance, and Mount Olive Mayor Joe Scott stand in front of the Boling plant that has been purchased by SERIES Seating, a manufacturer of new stadium seating.

MOUNT OLIVE -- SERIES Seating, a manufacturer of new stadium seating, has purchased the Boling facility.

The approximately 202,969-square-foot facility is located on 38.44 acres on the Old Mount Olive Highway just north of town.

With more than 35 years of experience, the company is a global industry leader in design, manufacturing and installation of ergonomic seating systems.

Its international corporate headquarters, including its design and engineering divisions, is located in Miami, Florida.

It also has corporate offices in Australia and Colombia and a global sales force.

SERIES has installed seating in more than 40 countries on five continents in worship centers, performing arts centers, auditoriums, arenas, stadiums, educational classrooms and lecture halls, waiting areas, cinemas, and home theaters.

CEO Mauricio Olarte, who founded the company in Bogota, Colombia, in 1982, said he is looking forward to opening the plant.

"I think this country is amazing," Olarte said. "The opportunity is tremendous. I love the town of Mount Olive. I really like the people that I have met there.

"It is very well located. Geographically it is near the port for exports. So this is a very important opportunity for our company to do something. If we are successful ourselves then the production will come behind with no problem."

Olarte said an architect is finishing up plans to renovate the facility -- a project that could cost up to $2 million. But that is a preliminary estimate.

Equipment, "which is very expensive," could add another $5 million to $7 million to the operation as it cranks up in phases, he said.

Initially the plant will have 20 to 30 employees by the end of the year, a number that is expected to grow to 80 to 100 when fully operational, hopefully within two years.

Olarte said he is unsure what the annual payroll will be.

"I believe in hiring the right people and paying a fair salary," he said. "It is going to take time to train the people and get people ready.

"Machines you can buy easy, but people you need an incredible amount of people to be trained. That takes the longest. So it is a commitment long term."

The operation will be environmentally friendly as well, Olarte said.

The Bogota, Colombia, will continue to manufacture items for Columbia and the South American market, he said. The Mount Olive plant will make items for other markets, he said.

The raw materials being used in Bogota are made in the U.S. and shipped there, he said.

The company will be good for Mount Olive mainly because of the way Olarte operates his business, said Doug Wiggins, the building's current owner.

"He makes decisions about as thoughtful as anybody you can imagine for the economy, for the environment, for his employees," Wiggins said. "I have been working on projects and things with them for probably 10 or years.

"I have been to their plant in Bogota, Colombia. They are really awesome people, especially Mauricio. He is a great guy."

Wiggins said he has spoken with Olarte for several years about buying the building and moving to Mount Olive.

"Bringing industry to existing buildings is something that we are always looking for," Mayor Joe Scott said. "We are very fortunate when Mauricio decided to come to Mount Olive. It is the Wigginses who got him here.

"We are excited they are coming here and establishing a manufacturing company. Also they have a wholesale business to do business here in the U.S. For Wayne County and Mount Olive, it is going to bring an industry that we haven't had before. It is here by the industrial park, and we are always trying to promote the industrial park."

Scott said that he and Tiffany Creech, existing industry manager for Wayne County Development Alliance, have been working with the company to help find local leadership to help with the company that will manufacture the seating here.

"We are so excited this company is opening up their first manufacturing plant here in the U.S., putting that facility back into full use and employing our workers," Creech said. "They are a great company with big plans for the Mount Olive area."

No financial incentives have been discussed yet -- it's just too early in the process, Creech said.

An architect is just now drawing up plans for the operation and the building, she said.

"Once the project is scoped out and costs are assigned, I'm sure we'll be going for state and local incentives, as well as training grants through the state's Customized Training program, but none of that has really been discussed yet," Creech said.

Creech said the county has been working with the company and developing a relationship with it for about six months now -- providing support any way the county can.

"Together with our partners and allies, we'll be right there with them every step of the way connecting them with the right folks to help with every aspect of this project," she said. "They are a great, family-oriented business, and although their roots are in another country, they definitely understand the importance of what this new industry will mean to our community.

"They are very anxious to get started and to positively impact our community, and we couldn't be more excited to have them here in Wayne County."