AUBURN, Ala. — Automotive aftermarket wheels designer and maker Wheel Pros L.L.C. has acquired the assets of Borbet Alabama's alloy wheel plant in Auburn, formerly operated by Borbet G.m.b.H. of Hallenberg-Hesborn, Germany.
The Auburn facility, which formerly produced wheels for original equipment customers, will be converted to an aftermarket wheel facility by Denver-based Wheel Pros, which said production of cast wheels will begin in a few months and ramp up to approximately 1.5 million wheels annually.
The purchase price was not disclosed.
Borbet closed the Auburn plant in April, just weeks after announcing a $24 million investment to expand the factory. The economic downturn that came with the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the German firm to rethink its position.
The plant had been operational since 2003 and had been owned by Borbet since 2008. The move put 250 workers out of work.
Wheel Pros claims it is the only branded automotive aftermarket wheel supplier with cast wheel manufacturing capabilities, at a facility in York, S.C.
Wheel Pros said it first invested in domestic manufacturing in 2018 with its acquisition of the 220,000 sq.-ft. York facility. Wheel Pros has manufactured cast wheels there since 2019 and said it has created more than 150 full-time jobs. It eventually expects to employ 250 at the facility.
Wheel Pros expects to create more than 300 full-time jobs at the larger Auburn facility, creating jobs for individuals who were impacted when the facility was shut down earlier this year.
"This investment secures our position as a leader in our industry and provides us with full control of the entire manufacturing process, ensuring that our customers receive nothing but the best quality products," Randy White, CEO and co-founder of Wheel Pros, said.
"We know our customers want the option to purchase products made in America, and with our facilities in South Carolina and Alabama, we can provide them with the highest quality wheels with our leading designs."
Jody Groce, president and co-founder of Wheel Pros, said there is "great talent in Auburn, and we look forward to working together with the community there."
Wheel Pros serves over 10,000 retailers with a distribution network that spans North America and Australia. It offers proprietary brands with more than 300 custom wheel styles.
It is backed by Clearlake Capital Group L.P., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based private investment firm, which bought Wheel Pros in 2018.