Alevo Opens with Fanfare and Promises
Oct 29, 2014 11:29AM
● By Jason Huddle
Alevo CEO, Jostein Eikland, addresses guests at the official opening of Victory Industrial Park in Concord.
Concord – After years of sitting dormant, the old Philip Morris plant, which used to manufacture cigarettes, was officially dubbed “Victory Industrial Park” by its new owners, Alevo (Alevo Group), and will be used to combat the global problem of energy waste. The energy service provider unveiled its plan for its new headquarters through the course of an entire day, utilizing speakers from all over the world and locally. The announcement comes much to the relief of a community that has struggled since Philip Morris closed its doors in 2009.
When that occurred, almost 2,500 local jobs went away. Now, with Alevo moving in, it is anticipated that all 2,500 jobs will be returned to the community within three years. Even more surprising was the announcement that the company may employ as many as 6,000 people locally in the near future. “We’re going to create a lot of jobs,” said Alevo’s CEO, Chairman and Founder, Jostein Eikland.
The question on everyone’s mind has been, “What does Alevo do?” The answer is both astounding and complicated. According to company officials, the world wastes approximately 30 percent of all the energy that is produced. Up until now, there has been no way to sufficiently store that wasted energy. Alevo has found that solution.
Out of their Concord facility, Alevo will be manufacturing batteries that can be used to store energy that would have otherwise been wasted. Those
batteries are then assembled together in a container know as a “Gridbank”. The Gridbanks can then be shipped anywhere in the world where there is an energy deficiency or none at all and be used to power an area for up to 20 years. “The battery is safe, non-flammable and non-combustible,” added Chris Christainsen, Executive Vice President of Alevo.
These claims were backed up by representatives of other international companies that have partnered with Alevo. “We need to find ways to store the energy and release it when needed,” said Dr. Deng Xu, Chairman of E&M (a Chinese energy group), through a letter that was read to the guests. “We believe the Alevo battery is that bridge.”
The company anticipates its first shipment of Gridbanks to leave Concord in July, 2015. The facility will serve the U.S., Turkey and China initially. “How cool is it that something we’re going to manufacture here in Concord will be shipped out to China?” asked Congressman Richard Hudson to the welcome event attendees, which was met with much applause.
Alevo wasted no time in integrating and endearing itself to the community. The company employed several local firms in order to pull off the event that saw as many as 500 attendees, ranging from local business leaders to elected and appointed officials, such as Concord Mayor, Scott Padgett, NC Secretary of Commerce, Sharon Decker, U.S. Congressman, Richard Hudson (NC-8) and Gov. Pat McCrory. . Walker Marketing was brought in to handle the public relations, JHE handled the actual production of the event and Dough Girls catering served lunch to the guests.
Already there are 30 team members that are working at the Concord facility. Ironically, one of those members is a former employee of Philip Morris. The company anticipates hiring 500 people initially. Once the manufacturing equipment is installed and ready to start production, which is estimated to be around April, 2015, then more hires will begin to take place.
In addition, Scott Schotter, Chief Marketing and Sustainability Officer for Alevo, addressed what the company may be doing locally to both make its mark on the community and decrease its carbon footprint. “We’ve got 100 head of cattle on this land,” he said. “We’ve got 400 crops that are grown on the land. What if we used this locally-grown food to help feed our employees? These are some of the things we’re looking at.” Schotter also said the company is considering installing solar panels on the (approx.) 40 acres of rooftop they have currently on at the facility or possibly utilize a greenhouse garden.
When speaking as to why Alevo chose Concord for its new headquarters, Mayor Padgett wasted no time in singing the accolades of his city. “We’ve got a great facility here,” he said. “But in the end it was the community that sold the people from Alevo. It also didn’t hurt that they love NASCAR. We intend to be great business partners into the future.”
NC Governor, Pat McCrory, finished off the festivities be presenting Eikland with an NC flag and a plaque officially renaming the property Victory Industrial Park. As the two exchanged a bear hug, McCrory claimed this may be remembered as the biggest announcement for the North Carolina economy in history. Time will tell, but with the recent additional announcements of Amazon, FedEx and Gordon Food Service setting up distribution centers in Cabarrus County, things are finally looking up.