ANDERSON COUNTY: Bosch, LLC
Jul 03, 2017 01:54PM ● Published by Makayla Gay
By Baker Maultsby
Roger Heitzeg calls it “the Anderson magic.”
It’s a combination of what could be called “the three Ps”: Heitzeg identified “people, processes, and partnerships” as the factors that have made the Robert Bosch, LLC, plant in Anderson a success since it opened in 1985.
Heitzeg serves as senior vice president and technical plant manager for Bosch’s Anderson facility. The company manufactures a variety of automotive products that, as a company website describes it, “(make) driving safer, cleaner and more economical.” The Anderson plant focuses on technology that goes into transmission, power steering and exhaust systems.
With 70 locations in the United States, Bosch also manufactures consumer goods as well as industrial and building technology.
Bosch employs about 1,300 people in Anderson.
Heitzeg said the company takes pride in attracting highly skilled workers and giving them opportunities to thrive. He shared the story of an employee who was recently promoted to a key management position. The associate had started at the company more than 20 years ago, when he was just out of high school, working on the line.
“Many of our leaders have come along on a similar path,” Heitzeg said.
Bosch strives to keep a pipeline of well-prepared employees by investing heavily in education and workforce development. According to Randy Bunch, human resources director at Bosch Anderson, the Bosch Community Fund has contributed more than $1 million to support education in the county since 2013.
In March, the company announced grants totaling $245,485 to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs in the county. All five local school districts, along with Tri-County Technical College, received money to support initiatives ranging from summer learning programs for middle-school students to technology upgrades.
“We’ve brought in educators and said, ‘What do you need from us?’” Bunch said. He praised the efforts of school district leaders to promote STEM education and for setting clear goals to strengthen curricular innovations. Meanwhile, Bosch has worked closely with Tri-County Technical College and Greenville Technical College to provide specific training and skill development that the company and others like it are looking for. “They have been very willing partners,” Heitzeg said.
Helping to forge these partnerships is Teri Gilstrap, who works as existing industries manager for Anderson County. Her role is partly to serve as a liaison between county government and local companies – putting managers in touch with county staff when questions arise, conveying the needs of industry to government leaders, and providing information on possible tax incentives. But she also is focused on workforce development.
“I set up tours for the school districts – that can be overwhelming for companies, so I facilitate tours and guest speakers,” Gilstrap explained. It’s important, she said, for students and their teachers and counselors to get inside of local industrial plants and to learn first-hand about the opportunities and demands of high-tech manufacturing jobs.
“It’s not my grandmother’s manufacturing job,” she remarked. “They’re using computers and robots – and the wages reflect that.”
Gilstrap coordinates a workforce development collaborative that brings together local companies, education leaders, and county government staff. The group meets regularly, shares ideas, and looks for opportunities to strengthen partnerships. All parties recognize that it takes a team approach to maintain Anderson County’s strong employment numbers and good paying manufacturing jobs into the future.
Bosch is on the leading edge of these efforts, according to Gilstrap. “They are one of our top employers, offering the kind of jobs that are really enticing, and they’re great contributors to our educational system,” she said. “Their management team is phenomenal. I can’t say enough good things about them.”
Bosch’s commitment to education and workforce development in Anderson reflects an overall corporate mindset. Nationally, the Bosch Community Fund contributes up to $3 million a year to promote math and science education.
The fund also supports environmental initiatives. In Anderson County, Bosch has funded upgrades at the Saddlers Creek state park and contributed to the Save Our Saluda campaign. This year’s grants included $5,000 for web-based mapping technology that can be used by classroom teachers and by others wanting to learn more about the Saluda River and watershed.
Taken together, Bosch’s contributions in Anderson are difficult to quantify. Put simply, the company is a driving force in the economic success of Anderson County, an area that has attracted good-paying jobs, weathered downturns better than many communities, and maintains a confident and optimist outlook.
It goes back to those “three Ps” – though if Heitzeg had to choose one, it would be the people who make it possible. “For us, people are in the center,” he said. “We want for people to be engaged, to learn, and to grow.”