American LaFrance Celebrates Grand Opening of North Charleston, S.C., Plant and Headquarters

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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC . . . American LaFrance Corporation officially opened its new headquarters and manufacturing facility in North Charleston, S.C., today. Joined by South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges, more than 300 state and local officials, fire and emergency department representatives, and American LaFrance dealers and employees celebrated the opening of the plant that will be the manufacturing and company headquarters for the 170-year-old fire apparatus company.

“Today, we begin a new chapter in the rich history of American LaFrance,” said American LaFrance President Don Stewart. “Moving into this large, state-of-the-art facility will further enhance our customer service and custom manufacturing capability and will accelerate American LaFrance’s growth in the fire and emergency services industry. The state of South Carolina, Charleston County and the city of North Charleston have shown that Southern hospitality and good business go hand-in-hand.”

Following the dedication ceremony, American LaFrance gave tours of the 283,500 square-foot plant. The company’s line of aluminum and stainless steel fire truck bodies and the MedicMaster brand ambulances are produced at the North Charleston plant. By 2003, custom cab manufacturing and final truck assembly will move into the new plant. Currently, about 75 employees are working at the North Charleston facility. It is estimated that, by 2004, 800 employees will be needed to meet expected production rates. American LaFrance has invested $12 million to prepare the facility for production.

“Together, American LaFrance and Freightliner are dedicated to supporting North American fire and emergency services departments,” said Freightliner LLC President and CEO Rainer Schmueckle. “The new manufacturing plant is a tremendous asset to American LaFrance in serving its customers and will help us continue to expand our presence in the fire and emergency services industry.”

Located on Palmetto Parkway, the facility is situated on a 90-acre site. Plans for the site include expanding manufacturing space by 100,000 square feet in the future.

American LaFrance, a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC, produces and distributes a comprehensive line of fire and emergency apparatus including chassis, aerials, ambulances, pumpers, rescues, tankers, wildland vehicles, fire pumps, emergency medical products, and fire and rescue equipment (

Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks in North America and is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world's largest commercial vehicle manufacturer (

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