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Change comes to Kaeser
Kaeser Compressors expanding office space, president retiring

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Date published: 11/2/2008

BY BILL FREEHLING

It's been 26 years since Reiner G. Mueller agreed to start U.S. operations in the Fredericksburg area for Kaeser Kompressoren, a privately held German company that's been making compressed air equipment since its founding in 1919.

In 1982, the German-born Mueller and two other employees set up Kaeser Compressors on Industrial Drive in Spotsylvania County's Four-Mile Fork area and got to work building a U.S. market for the company.

They picked Fredericksburg for its proximity to multiple transportation centers. Early tasks involved translating German product manuals into English and traveling the country building the business.

Now, as Mueller prepares to retire and hand over leadership to his son, Kaeser Compressors has become the largest subsidiary of the German company and is one of the top air compressor providers in the U.S. It counts Ingersoll-Rand as one of its top competitors.

A short tour through the company's 16-acre U.S. headquarters site off Lansdowne Road in Spotsylvania near the Fredericksburg line tells the growth story.

The company moved to the 100,000-square-foot facility in 1994. The office buzzes as workers involved in sales, marketing, training, testing, shipping, assembly, accounting, human resources, quality control and more ply their trade.

The Fredericksburg office employs about 150 people. Kaeser is adding 17,500 square feet of office space that could someday hold up to 110 more employees--though they won't be hired immediately. The space will instead relieve some of the current overcrowding and enable future growth.

Construction started in June--a month after a tornado caused significant damage at the office--and should be done by March. Scott Thomas Construction is the general contractor. The company has focused on making the addition energy-efficient--which is also what it strives for in its equipment.

Many people may not know much about compressed air equipment, as Kaeser sells directly to businesses. But the uses are widespread in industries including automotive, plastics, textiles, commercial printing, dentistry, cabinetry and large-scale manufacturing. NASCAR's Joe Gibbs Racing uses a Kaeser compressed air system at its North Carolina racing facility.

Mueller sums it up succinctly--compressed air is used by "anybody who produces anything."


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