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Bland plant expands, adding 40 new jobs
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Bland plant expands, adding 40 new jobs

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Northam Hitachi

Gov. Ralph Northam was in Bland on Wednesday to celebrate the expansion of the largest public employer in the county.

BLAND – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam stopped in Bland on Wednesday to celebrate the expansion of the Hitachi Energy plant.

The company, a leader in power and energy technologies, invested $6.2 million to upgrade equipment and increase manufacturing capacity at its Bland County operation.

The facility, formerly called Hitachi ABB Power Grids, is the largest private-sector employer in the county and the leading producer of dry-type transformers in North America. The Bland County operation successfully competed with other Power Grid manufacturing facilities across the United States for this project, which created 40 new jobs. Hitachi announced the expansion in September 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northam thanked the company for expanding in Virginia, and said the state’s economy is doing well overall, despite the pandemic.

It means something that the company, in one form or another, has been in Bland for nearly 50 years, since 1972, Northam said. The company now employs 330 employees.

The Bland facility designs and manufactures medium-voltage transformers. The transformers contain no oil and are used to adjust and stabilize the voltage of electricity flowing through the nation’s power grids, as well as in specialized industries like data centers, hospitals, universities and renewable energy. The expansion was initiated to address the fast-growing demand from customers across North America.

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During a tour of the facility, Northam spoke with employees who explained, step-by-step, how the transformers are manufactured.

Craig Helewski has been with the company 12 years.

“It’s exciting to see a large investment in this facility,” he said. “It speaks volumes about the future of this facility.”

Co-worker Dwayne Hurt said he was excited to speak with the governor.

“It’s like meeting Michael Jordon; when you see somebody famous, you want to be a part of it,” he said.

Hitachi executive Anthony Allard said Hitachi has 38,000 globally and 4,600 in North America. One-quarter of Hitachi’s earning come from North American operations, and the Bland facility is a big part of those numbers, he said.

The plant expansion is a sign that the market is here as demand for the transformers made in Bland increases, Allard said.

“A lot of great things come out of this facility and more is to come,” he added.

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