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RATO could hire more than 600

RATO chairman Zhu Liedong and Gov. Bev Purdue cut a ribbon Thursday, celebrating the company’s decision to locate its North American headquarters in Lincoln County.

China-based engine maker unveils big plans for Denver

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

China-based RATO Power Company  plans to open its North American headquarters in Lincoln County, the company announced Thursday, also revealing plans for a manufacturing facility that could create up to 600 jobs locally.
Executives from RATO and Denver Global Products — which was recently acquired by RATO — were joined by various local and state government officials, including Gov. Bev Perdue and N.C. Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco, at Verdict Ridge Country Club in Denver to mark the announcement.
The headquarters, which will create 40 executive-level jobs, will be temporarily located at a facility on N.C. 16 North while the company makes plans to build or refit a new location, Roger Leon, president of Denver Global, told the news media.
Additionally, the company is looking at eastern Lincoln County as a location for a manufacturing plant that Leon hopes will be open by this fall. When fully operating, the plant could employ between 500 and 600 people. Leadership positions may start being filled as early as March.
Zhu Liedong, chairman of RATO, said through an interpreter that rapid growth of the company over the past few years had allowed for the acquisition of Denver Global, which Leon noted was a “marriage of technology.”
Both men believe RATO’s new North American presence will allow the company to provide better service to many of its customers through quicker transportation of products.
Leon also said the company is surveying locations in the Denver area and other parts of the southeastern United States to place its larger, permanent manufacturing and distribution operations.
RATO, whose global headquarters are in Chongqing, China, was founded in 2007 and is a manufacturer of water pumps, generators and general-purpose engines used primarily for outdoor power equipment, ATVs and motorcycles. The company currently supplies customers in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Leon will become the president of RATO North America. Denver Global, he said, will remain an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of the company, focused more on product innovation rather than manufacturing.
Perdue, who has visited China twice while in office, said RATO’s decision to place its first facility outside of China in Lincoln County “bodes tremendously well” for the potential of manufacturing jobs in the community.
“We’re seeing the start of something big to help change this area and this community,” she said.
Perdue also took the opportunity to stress the importance of education for successful economic development.
“We know how to innovate in North Carolina,” she noted.

Image courtesy of Ray Gora / LTN

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