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Danfoss Turbocor unveils latest $60 million production facility

Danfoss Turbocor – the world's leading manufacturer of oil-free compressors with magnetic bearings – is doing in Tallahassee what no other international company has done.

On Wednesday, the new 13,000 square meter production facility at the headquarters in Innovation Park will be officially opened. The $60 million facility is a milestone: the fourth expansion since the Danish family company set up shop here around two decades ago.

During a recent exclusive tour, Ricardo Schneider, President of Danfoss Turbocor, spoke about the importance of the facility and how it will enable the company to build more than 14,000 compressors per year, doubling its current capacity.

He said the company is committed to providing energy-saving solutions for its customers and aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. He added that 50% of its electricity comes from the solar farm at Tallahassee International Airport.

“We have made significant investments to make the factory extremely efficient in cooling and heating, but also to reuse all the energy we can recover from the manufacturing process,” said Schneider. “This is a huge investment to achieve our sustainability goals.”

On Wednesday, many will see the factory for the first time. Danfoss executives, representatives and family members of the company's founder Mads Clausen, who founded “Dansk Køleautomatik og Apparatfabrik” in 1933, will also have the opportunity to express their opinions.

Family roots, global reach, Tallahassee influence

As the tour begins, Schneider points out areas of interest in the lobby of the production facility. He passes a floor-to-ceiling black-and-white photograph showing Clausen and several employees in his first factory.

The vintage image reminds Schneider, employees and visitors of how far the company has come since it first manufactured thermostatic expansion valves, including water valves, thermostats, pressure switches and filter driers.

Today, the company produces compressors that are in high demand, especially in rapidly growing factories and data centers.

Schneider said the company cools large hyperscale data centers for companies like Google, Amazon and Meta, adding: “All of these large companies have a huge need to build large data centers and the cooling system needs to be as efficient as possible.”

He said data centers were the company's fastest-growing customer base and predicted they would make up “half of our business” in two to three years.

“We are experiencing growth of unprecedented proportions,” he said.

According to Danfoss, the company “employs more than 40,000 people and serves customers in more than 100 countries with 95 plants around the world.” The grand opening will be a rare opportunity for Danfoss customers from around the world to travel to Tallahassee and tour the manufacturing facility in person.

Keith Bowers, director of the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality, said Danfoss has doubled down on its investment, adding that the decision to plant in the capital city required a “leap of faith.”

At the time, Bowers said, Tallahassee was not on the radar of many international companies. But Danfoss had a vision for the company that included close proximity to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, also known as the “Mag Lab,” and its advanced research in magnetic technologies.

“Looking back now, several years later,” Bowers said, “the fact that they added a manufacturing division to their campus exceeded our expectations.”

OEV offers financial incentives to companies that specialize in certain industries, such as “applied science and innovation” and “manufacturing and transportation/logistics.” In 2020, Bowers said, OEV entered into an agreement with Danfoss that required the company to make a capital investment of $48 million and build a facility of about 8,400 square meters.

“But they've exceeded expectations on both sides,” Bowers said. “The number of jobs they're creating there, the wages they're paying and the benefits – I just think they're a model company and they're really on the rise here in our community.”

Interior views of Danfoss Turbocor's new production facility

Construction began two years ago and was completed on April 1.

It is similar to the processes in an automobile assembly plant. There is a lot of space in the main production area, with the assembly line being the heart of the building. It starts with mechanical assembly, followed by testing and electrical assembly.

From start to finish, there are eight stations where the workers are positioned. Each station has a different task and is guided by robotic arms or sophisticated computer systems. A green light, for example, tells the worker which part is needed at that stage of the compressor assembly, which is followed by another step and yet another step.

“This will lead to significantly higher productivity,” said Schneider, “but also ensure that we have much better quality control because the computer tells us what is right or wrong. It is very difficult to make a mistake.”

More than half of the open space is empty and plans are underway to make room to move the manufacturing process from the old factory to the new factory. “The shaft, the magnetic bang, the sensor rings, everything will take up that space,” Schneider said.

Schneider: “Demand is growing so fast”

Since its founding in Tallahassee, Danfoss has doubled its business size every four years.

Despite the new plant, the company is almost at capacity, according to Schneider. The plant is Phase I of a multi-stage expansion plan with which Danfoss aims to expand its presence within five years.

“We have already spoken to customers and demand is growing so fast that we will probably have to start thinking about a second production line by 2026 or 2027,” he said.

Before the plant opened, Danfoss employed nearly 300 people in Tallahassee, making it one of the city's largest manufacturing employers alongside General Dynamics, a global aerospace and defense company. Danfoss plans to hire about 50 more people each year.

The company is training its employees to work on the new production line, which requires a higher level of skills to cope with the company's automation and computer processes during the two 10-hour shifts. Schneider said it has been a challenge to find already trained workers to meet the demand.

In 2021, Danfoss Turbocor began a five-year partnership with the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering to provide $750,000 in scholarships and research grants to first-generation or underrepresented minority students to develop engineering talent in Tallahassee while enabling them to achieve their overall career goals.

In addition, the company cooperates with Tallahassee Community College on human resource development programs, which include training to become a machinist.

“So hiring is becoming more and more difficult, especially in manufacturing,” Schneider said, adding that different skills are needed on the factory floor and this is a global problem. “We have to invest a lot of time in educating and training people to become engineers.”

Contact economic development reporter TaMaryn Waters at tlwaters@tallahassee.com and follow @TaMarynWaters on X.

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