German company eyes projects at Heartland
It's not often that companies move their operations to Long Island from elsewhere in the United States.
It's even less often that they do so from overseas.
But in January, a German company will begin contract manufacturing at the Heartland Industrial Park in Edgewood, building products used in the renewable energy industry. Initially, it will be hiring 30 people, and as many as 100 in a year or so, according to Stephan Rottach, chief executive of the company, SRI North America Corp., a unit of SRI Holding AG in Durach, Germany.
"European customers see the market" for renewable energy products "expanding in the U.S.," Rottach said in a phone interview from the company's headquarters earlier this week. "Also, American customers are searching for a German company," that would help them find customers in Europe.
Direct Grid Technologies Llc, also in the Heartland Park, engineered the product, micro-inverters, and partnered with SRI. Micro-inverters convert direct current into alternating current. The energy harvested by a solar panel is direct current, for example, that needs to be inverted for household use. Direct Grid has a 5-year manufacturing agreement with SRI.
Only two executives, Rottach and chief operating officer Andreas Fischer, will be coming from Germany, Rottach said. The 30 employees will be hired locally. Rottach said employment might grow to 100 or so within the year. Beyond that, he said, would depend on the market for the company's products.
Frank Cooper, Direct Grid's president, said the agreement with SRI will produce "hundreds" of jobs across the country in the next few years. He said Direct Grid needs to produce about 100,000 inverters a month to meet market demand. "We needed a global manufacturing partner," Cooper said.
Ray Donnelly, a director of the Long Island Forum for Technology, said he could not recall a time when a company from Germany opened operations here. LIFT, Donnelly said, acted as SRI's "Welcome Wagon," introducing company officials to members of the business and political community.
"Maybe this is a sign of things to come," Donnelly said.
Rottach said those interested in working for SRI should contact the company at www.sri-na.com.