Mass. compressor company to create 150 jobs in area

Atlas Copco Compressors will create about 150 local jobs when it moves its headquarters to Rock Hill, the company said Wednesday.

Company spokeswoman Jennifer Tremblay said the air compressor manufacturer, part of the international Atlas Copco Group and a sister company of local tool maker Chicago Pneumatic, will relocate its offices from Westfield, Mass., to Rock Hill's Waterford Business Park later this month. The company's manufacturing operations already are at Waterford, Tremblay said, and the headquarters will be housed in the same facility.

"Since the production facility was already in Rock Hill, it just made sense to have our other operations here as well," Tremblay said.

The company will relocate some workers from Westfield but plans to hire about 150 new employees, she said. The senior management, finance, accounting and communications departments among others all will move to Rock Hill, the company said.

"The new jobs will be across the board. We may have needs in multiple departments," Tremblay said.

BeaconMedaes, an Atlas Copco affiliate that makes medical air and vacuum equipment, also will relocate its headquarters to the Waterford location from Lenexa, Kan., as part of the move, Tremblay said.

'Preferred location for headquarters'

York County Economic Development Director Mark Farris said landing the corporate headquarters is a big win for York County.

"I think this validates that we've established ourselves as a preferred location for headquarters in the Charlotte region," Farris said, noting several com- panies, including 3D Systems and Muzak, have relocated headquarters to the county in recent years.

While manufacturing and distribution plants generally boast plenty of new jobs when they first arrive, Farris said a company's headquarters tends to bring with it a diverse, educated and higher-salaried group of employees.

"It will bring folks to the community that have a lot of resources," he said. "There's an element of prestige (that comes with a headquarters)."

Farris said one headquarters tends to attract more, and his office has been busy talking to firms eyeing York County. He said many companies are attracted to York County because it has all the big-city amenities nearby in Charlotte while still offering "that hometown feeling ... less taxes and good, quality schools."

The Atlas Copco move follows a decade of development for the international giant in Rock Hill.

In 1997, Atlas Copco-owned Chicago Pneumatic Tool moved its air-compression tool manufacturing operations from Utica, N.Y., to Rock Hill, employing more than 200 workers at Waterford Business Park, although about 95 were laid off in 2000. Atlas Copco Compressors moved its portable compressors and generators manufacturing line in with Chicago Pneumatic in 2004, creating about 60 new jobs. Now, the Atlas Copco operations in Rock Hill will employ more than 350 people altogether. Worldwide, Sweden-based Atlas Copco Group employs almost 26,000 people in industrial tool, construction and mining equipment operations.