Helukabel adding new US HQ, expanding presence globally

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Photo by Helukabel GmbH Officials gather for the groundbreaking of Helukabel's new U.S. headquarters in Elgin, Ill.

German wire and cable maker Helukabel GmbH has invested more than $38 million to increase its global presence in 2017, including breaking ground for a new headquarters for Helukabel USA in a Chicago suburb.

The maker of wires and cables using PVC, thermoplastic polyurethane, thermoplastic elastomer and other materials marked the ground breaking for its 75,000-square-foot building in West Dundee, Illinois, 9 Nov. 

In separate moves, the firm has expanded its manufacturing facility in Windsbach, Germany, and recently opened subsidiaries in both Mexico and Brazil.

Helukabel's new US headquarters represents an $8 million investment with room to expand beyond 200,000 square feet if future growth dictates. The site will open with about 20 full-time employees. A company spokesman said via email the firm had maxed out its previous 45,000-square-foot headquarters in nearby Elgin, Illinois.

The building will have state-of-the-art energy efficiency systems in place. The spokesman added that the firm will be able to increase operational efficiency with improved workflow as well as a dedicated spooling rack space for high-volume items.

Helukabel also wanted a location that wasn't too far from its current site. The new facility is about five miles from Elgin.

"It was important to find a property in close geographic proximity to our current location to maintain our existing employee base," Helukabel USA President Markus Dannheim said in a statement. "Our employees and the relationships they have created with customers around the world are a fundamental key factor for the continued success our company has experienced over the past years. It was furthermore important for us to have immediate interstate access to minimize lead-times for our customers. West Dundee and their pragmatic and progress-oriented city officials made it an easy decision for us to invest within their city limits."

The spokesman added that the North America market has been growing steadily for the firm, both organically and through new subsidiaries. Its new headquarters will have more storage racks to enhance product availability and reduce customer lead times, in addition to dedicated rack space for high-volume, small cut lengths that can be packaged directly from the rack instead of moving cables to the cutting equipment.

He said Helukabel projects growth in the region to continue at the same level it has been during the last 10 years.

"With more space and optimized material flow, the new location will allow orders to be cut faster, greater product availability for improved lead time, and with the new building being closer to interstate access potentially quicker delivery," the spokesman said.

Expanded manufacturing

Helukabel invested more than $30 million on its building in Germany and subsequent manufacturing equipment. The spokesman said the project was completed early in 2017 and added about 96,800 square feet to the existing site.

"The new engineering centre is equipped with six drag chain test facilities that will allow us to check if our products are ready for series production and further their development in a realistic environment," he said.

The site's new engineering centre houses additional test and inspection equipment for moving applications as well as for extreme climate zones. The spokesman said a significant amount has been invested throughout Helukabel's footprint in restructuring and commissioning existing machines, part of the firm's three-year plan to increase production capacity and optimize material handling.

"We took the opportunity to improve communication between the various production areas," Thomas Pikkemaat, Windsbach plant business manager and drive technology product manager, said in a statement. "Shorter paths combined with newly set-up meeting zones will serve to enhance coordination between these areas and enable even leaner methods of working."

Windsbach manufactures standard catalogue items as well as custom and application-specific cables and wires that typically withstand extreme chemical, electric and mechanical stress. The site employs about 160 people and spans more than 430,500 square feet.

Growing in NAFTA

The firm also opened its 27th and 28th subsidiaries earlier in 2017, in Mexico and Brazil, marking the first such locations in each country. The combined investment for both sites exceeded $250,000.

Helukabel Managing Director Mark Luksch said in a statement that the firm is seeing rising demand for its products in Central and South America, with Mexico alone accounting for thousands of global companies, with sustainable investments being made in the automotive and food and beverage industries, both key markets for Helukabel.

The Mexico subsidiary will consist of an 8,600-square-foot warehouse located in Querétaro, northwest of Mexico City, and will employ about eight people.

"With the opening of Helukabel Mexico we have now built one cohesive business unit covering NAFTA," Dannheim said in a separate statement. "Our customers, especially those that are export-oriented, now have access to a Helukabel branch in each country to provide enhanced product availability and the personalized service that our customers in each country have grown accustomed to."

The Brazilian site is located in Valinhos, within the state of São Paulo, and spans about 10,700 square feet with a 7,500-square-foot warehouse. The site employs five.

The spokesman said many of the firm's largest international customers have been active in Brazil for many years and, despite the current economic downturn, Helukabel is committed to the country for the long term and sees rising demand for its products in both Central and South America.

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