Freudenberg eyes expansion of N.H. plants, workforce

Freudenberg North America, which operates three companies and seven industrial facilities in New Hampshire, has announced plans to expand its Granite State workforce in the next two years.

The company, which already employs 1,300 people in the state, said it plans to add up to 100 new employees in the next two years at Klüber Lubrication in Londonderry — part of Freudenberg Chemical Specialties — and Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies at its Bristol and Northfield locations.

In addition to adding employees, the company also said it would look into physically expanding these locations by 2014.

Freudenberg, a global company with 37,000 associates in 58 countries, provides seals and vibration control technology components, filters, non-wovens, release agents and lubricants to myriad industrial sectors from automotive and aerospace to pharmaceutical, construction and energy.

New Hampshire has been the company's U.S. "home base" since it expanded into North America several decades ago, said Hanno Wentzler, CEO of Freudenberg Chemical Specialties.

"It's important to remember that New Hampshire was the cradle where Freudenberg started in the United States 60 years ago," he said. "You wouldn't expect a fine chemicals manufacturing company to locate in New Hampshire, but we have made it here."

To find qualified industrial workers to fill the positions that will open in the next two years, Leesa Smith, president of Freudenberg North America Limited Partnership, will partner with the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development and the state's community college system to discuss strategies and partnerships to enhance worker-training programs.

"Over 25 percent of Freudenberg's North American workforce and sales are located and generated in New Hampshire," said Smith. "We are committed to this state; we feel at home here, we appreciate the New Hampshire advantage offered to our employees. But we are also keenly aware that competition for corporate investment is fierce and global, and we need strong public-private partnerships to overcome perceived challenges such as talent shortages and limited subsidies for industrial operations."

Among the manufacturing challenges in the state that Smith and Wentzler pointed to were limited funding for job training, inequitable credits for economic revitalization and a high corporate tax structure.

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