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German company to expand in Dawson
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A small, German-based manufacturer of industrial welding exhaust systems has purchased 14.7 acres in Dawson County.

The company, Kemper America Inc., plans to build a 20,000-square-foot plant off Carlisle Road in late 2014.

Kemper President Ben Howell said Dawson County is a good fit for his organization.

The property we found is very close to (Highway) 400, and thats important for us, Howell said. We got it at a good price, and the county is trying to help us establish the business.

The company paid $442,320 for the 14.74-acre parcel, located behind Worldwide Manufacturing, according to the Dawson County Tax Assessors website.

There are 14 German companies in Forsyth County, and this might bring other German companies this way, he said.

Kempers products focus on extracting toxic smoke fumes from the air that are generated during welding processes. The goal of Kempers products , Howell said, is to keep welders safe.

OSHA has cracked down on companies that dont have fume extractors, he said.

The fumes can cause infertility, black lung, cancer, and in the case of aluminum or stainless steel welding, Parkinsons disease.

Howell noted that in the movie Eric Brocovich, which is based on a true story, Pacific Gas and Electric had contaminated the groundwater supply in Hinkley, Calif., with carcinogenic hexavalent chromium.

In that movie, they were releasing chromium-six into the water, said Howell. Its the same as with stainless steel welding except it gets released into the air.

The company employees 10 people with offices in Alpharetta and Forsyth County.

We are a small, but growing company in America, Howell said. When I first started, I didnt have a chair, or even a pencil. Our products are in great demand, and weve been growing, on-average, 20 percent annually. In this economy, who can complain? Were very happy.

Founded in Vreden, Germany in 1977, the company employs 360 at its headquarters there.

In Dawson County, the company works closely with Impulse Manufacturing.

They are one of our larger customers, Howell said. We have a good relationship, so were going to be close to them, and we have bigger projects that are being planned.

Howell said he eventually will need good people with solid technical skills.

In Germany, people can do two things: You can get a college degree or become apprenticed like an electrician, painter, plumber or welder; then they go into an apprenticeship for three to six years, he said. Here, its not like that. I wish we had more skilled people in this area.