It will increase the production capacity of the entire local operation (steel wire and fiber-optic cable for the most part) by 200 percent — that means triple, and last year the Rome plant sold $432 million of product.
When the privately held Swiss manufacturing conglomerate picked Rome for its first (and still only) U.S. facility in 1976 and opened it in 1982 with five employees Otto Suhner was there. When he came for the expansion dedication it employed more than 200.
Trained by a history now fading to associate most manufacturing with textiles, Greater Romans tend not to note that a lot of other companies doing other things — many of them involving foreign investment — have prospered and expanded local operations and payrolls for many years now. By the way, when Gottlieb Suhner back in 1864 started his one-man operation that has now grown to about 650 employees worldwide, what he manufactured were accessories for ... textile machinery.
This is perhaps an unappreciated anchor to this community where, as in most, the pursuit of big outfits arriving with big numbers grab most of the attention. Yet, in ways less visible — like the huge baking industry center this has become — those ventures that grow the old-fashioned way known as slow and steady may tell the best story about the local economy. Clearly, this is a good place to plant a small startup that grows and grows and grows.