Blades maker to expand Augusta County plant
AccuTec Blades’ 60-year history in Augusta County played into the company’s decision to stay and invest $5.37 million to expand its manufacturing operations.
The move, announced in February, will create 53 jobs and retain 138.
The company, which started as American Safety Razor in Brooklyn in 1875, moved to Augusta County in 1956 with two divisions: shaving razors — it was the largest private, wet-shaving manufacturer in the world — and a specialty division that made blades for medical and industrial use.
In 2010, Energizer acquired the company for $301 million and merged the shaving unit with its Schick business. That move left the specialty division in Verona. “It didn’t fit into Energizer’s personal-care line and batteries businesses,” says Rick Gagliano, AccuTec’s president and CEO.
The specialty business was bought by a New Jersey investment group last September, and it took the name AccuTec Blades Inc. “In 2015, we went through an unsettled period of closing and selling. We had customers clamoring for our product, and we were turning them away,” Gagliano says. “With the new ownership, we were able to open up the floodgates and hire people. We have been swamped with orders that we are rushing to fill.”
The uptick in business provided the impetus for the company to invest more in its building and equipment to produce specialized orders for customers. The company makes blades used in nearly 30 industries ranging from medical services to construction.
“We are the largest manufacturer of that range of products in the U.S.,” Gagliano says. “There are only about two manufacturers in Japan that are larger than us.”
Before a decision was made to stay in Augusta, “we did have some other states courting us,” Gagliano says, noting that another option was to move manufacturing to Mexico. “We already had some manufacturing in Mexico.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Augusta and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership to secure the project for Virginia. “They came up with grant money — $125,000 from the Commonwealth Opportunity Fund and a matching $125,000 from Augusta County — and money to assist us in setting up training programs,” Gagliano says. The company is also eligible to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment.
The company expects to add jobs during the next two to three years. “We want to increase our size about 33 percent,” Gagliano says. “We have already started the hiring process.”