German auto parts manufacturer chooses Kilgore for new U.S. hub

Council members sign off on KEDC agreement with Wagner Tuning, LLC

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A German high performance auto parts manufacturer is bringing its American operations to Kilgore.

In time, Wagner Tuning’s Synergy Park facility will become the node of the company’s American distribution, relocating from its current hub in Fresno, California.

Kilgore Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Amanda Nobles outlined the deal during the Kilgore City Council’s Tuesday night meeting at City Hall, noting a $6.25 million total investment here including $4.37 million in real property improvements and $1.7 million in personal property.

“Wagner Tuning is an after-market performance part manufacturer for the automotive industry,” she said. “It’s for high performance engines.

“As they are able to train individuals to work for them in the manufacturing process they will bring in the equipment and begin manufacturing the products here as well as in Germany.”

When both distribution and manufacturing is expanded, Nobles added, the company is slated to employ about 30 people, primarily in machining jobs with some engineering positions – the company utilizes robotic equipment in its manufacturing process.

“If you know anything about German manufacturing, the facility in Germany is superb,” she said, “super slick, and I’m excited to have that ethic come to Kilgore, Texas, because it will be a great fit in our community.

“It hits a lot of different targets for us. One is that new construction, another is international – it’s one of our target geographies. It hits our payroll numbers, diversification and visitors coming to this plant.”

Wagner Tuning’s Kilgore facility will have a showroom with at least one high performance car on display to showcase the company’s products to potential customers.

KEDC’s incentive to the company is land at Synergy Park, and Nobles presented renderings of the 60,000 square-foot speculative building designed for the site.

“It’s worked for us before, and we felt like it would work again, that if one of our existing prospects didn’t go into it, a new one would,” she said. “The tenant worked with the architectural firm to put some finishing touches on it so the building reflected the company’s style.”

The EDC is offering a cash incentive subject to a 10-year economic development performance agreement with Wagner Tuning, totaling $817,000 during the decade.

“The company has signed a 20-year lease for this facility,” Nobles noted, which was funded locally with a bond issue. “The lease will cover the payback of the bonds with the incentive applied to that payback. We will not be giving cash money to this company, it’s actually going to the lease payment itself.

“It makes me very happy to announce this. I’m delighted. The company is owned by a great young man.” Carsten Wagner will be moving to East Texas with his wife and daughter, she noted.

According to a statement from the CEO at wagner-tuning.com, “Since 2002 we have been developing and producing high quality engine parts, such as intake manifolds, exhaust manifolds, downpipes and Intercooler kits. Recent technology advancements coupled with years of experience ensure optimum performance and highest manufacturing precision for our customers.”

Construction completion on the new building is estimated for Jan. 1, 2020, at which time the current distribution facility’s stock will be relocated to Kilgore.

“This has been two years in progress,” Nobles said. “We have made two business trips to Germany to tie down details. We actually met this company in California on one of our regional marketing efforts.

“He met with four other cities. He came and visited all those East Texas communities, and he chose Kilgore. We’re very proud of that.

“He was very impressed with the friendliness of the community, and he’s excited about this.”

Notably, Wagner and Kilgore College President Brenda Kays are discussing the development of an apprenticeship program similar to the norm in Germany.

“He plans on working with Kilgore College to see that the German style of education and vocational training can replicated here,” Nobles said.

Kilgore City Council members signed off on KEDC’s minutes in a consent agenda item Tuesday evening with a closed session discussion set for the end of the meeting after press time May 7. Look for updates in the News Herald’s Saturday edition.

“Amanda, we couldn’t be any happier,” council member Merlyn Holmes said. “We want to thank you, your staff and especially your board. We’re just ecstatic. We just can’t wait for him to become a part of us.”

Mayor Ronnie Spradlin praised KEDC for its patient pursuit of another prospect.

“I know you visit with tens of companies before you hook one and real it in,” he said. “I think this is a really exciting catch for Kilgore, and I know they’ll be happy here.”

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