300 new jobs coming to Chattanooga

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A German company that handles and manages the auto parts used in Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant plans to hire 300 more employees by the end of next year.

Schnellecke Logistics USA, the company’s American subsidiary which already employs about 350 workers in the city, is ramping up for the sport utility vehicle VW plans to produce in late 2016, said Jens Kappei, the company’s chief executive in Chattanooga.

“We’re happy they’re bringing the second [vehicle] to Chattanooga,” Kappei said.

Schnellecke is slated to start hiring in the first quarter of next year for forklift operators, clerks and other jobs, he said. Some engineers and supervisory posts will be open as well, Kappei said.

“We’re growing with our big client VW,” he said.

VW is investing more than $900 million to build the new midsize SUV. Volkswagen has plans to hire another 2,000 employees at the plant. The factory already employs about 2,400 VW workers.

Charles Wood, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of economic development, said Schnellecke has worked with Volkswagen and other original equipment manufacturers around the globe.

Wood said the Chamber is “glad to see a family-owned company like Schnellecke continue to grow here in Chattanooga.”

At the Enterprise South industrial park plant, Schnellecke personnel receive the inbound parts that go into the Chattanooga-made Passat sedan, which is made by Volkswagen.

Kappei said the parts are unloaded, stored and, based on orders from VW, delivered inside the production plant.

“We work when Volkswagen works,” he said. “We’re 100 percent driven by demand.”

Schnellecke “stages” the parts in the order they are needed by the production workers, Kappei said.

“It’s a complex system,” he said. “It’s all IT driven and high-tech.”

Even the forklifts used by Schnellecke workers have computer-like screens used to process the loads of parts, Kappei said.

Schnellecke has been running its logistics operation at the plant since April 2012.

“We’re very excited about future growth,” said Kappei, who has worked for the company in Mexico, Germany and Portugal.

He said the company has started consulting with other companies outside of Chattanooga in addition to the VW work. The company operates in 16 countries, including China, Europe and South America.

The privately held company is owned by the family of the former mayor of Wolfsburg, Germany, where VW is headquartered.

VW plant spokesman Scott Wilson said Volkswagen’s partnership with Schnellecke has been productive.

“These additional jobs are another example of the magnet effect that Volkswagen is having here in Tennessee. As we continue to expand our business, our local supplier base is expanding as well,” Wilson said.

Volkswagen, in addition to bringing on production workers, is hiring about 200 employees for a new engineering and planning center, which its officials termed the first of its kind in the South for an automaker.

Hiring has started for about 130 engineers and technicians who are to work at the center by 2017.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.