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Members of the PHCPPROS team travelled to Griffin, Georgia, in April to witness the grand opening of Rinnai America’s new manufacturing site — a 300,000-square-foot facility built to produce the company’s new RE Series tankless water heaters — the first major tankless brand to be produced in the United States.
The facility is the latest part of the Japanese-based company’s plan to expand its presence in North America, an area the company has identified as a major growth market. In 2018, Rinnai America built its headquarters and state-of-the-art innovation and training center in Peachtree City, Georgia. They then acquired Industrias Mass in 2021 to expand their product line into the Latin American market. The manufacturing site in Griffin is the third part of that expansion plan.
“Rinnai’s vision and strategy has always been to manufacture in the local markets,” said Shelley Kiley, vice president of operations at Rinnai America. “The facility in North America enables us to have very short lead times, and to service our customers better with the products that we manufacture.”
The RE Series tankless water heaters will be available in August 2022. After production ramps up for the RE Series, Rinnai has plans to use the plant to produce other Rinnai-branded products.
One-hundred percent of the new noncondensing tankless water heaters are being manufactured at the new facility, which also houses a packing and distribution center and on-site training.
The production lines assemble all the parts of the RE Series, with quality control measures in place. To ensure the facility adheres to the high manufacturing standards set by Rinnai Japan, many members of Rinnai’s team from Japan are working and training the employees. The initiative is spearheaded by Hidekatsu Naruse, senior operations advisor for Rinnai.
The equipment was designed and built by Rinnai Japan, Kiley noted.
“Technicians and support staff came over from Japan to install the manufacturing equipment,” she added. “They’ve been working to teach us the Rinnai way of manufacturing. It’s really an honor for us to have them.”
During the site tour, attendees viewed the distribution, assembly and fabrication areas. Within the assembly area are the engine, case and main assembly lines; the fabrication lines consist of presses, the heat exchanger assembly, a primary component of the water heater, and the component subassembly lines; and the distribution area, which contains both knockdown component storage and finished goods storage.
The manufacturing site added 150 new jobs to the Griffin community, ranging from associate-level positions to managers for the local community, mostly within the manufacturing and distribution sectors. Rinnai is also actively recruiting for more than 10 leadership positions ranging from group leaders to a new area manager, as well as several other maintenance, safety, engineering, human resources and IT roles. The company will be employing about 400 team members by the end of the year.
But it’s not just about the hiring for Rinnai, it’s also about the hands-on training of its new employees. Rinnai partnered with the Southern Crescent Technical College in Georgia to train many of their employees, who are right out of high school or are young adults new to the workforce. In addition, a training area was built right on the training floor.
“We put people first at Rinnai,” said Frank Windsor, president, Rinnai America. “As we’ve hired new talent, Rinnai has invested over 37,000 hours of training to make sure our new employees are safe and knowledgeable about the manufacturing process. And to Rinnai, the community is just as important. By creating new jobs and putting money back into the local economy, we’re showcasing our commitment to creating a healthier way of living for our employees, partners and community.”
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