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Hillphoenix celebrates building kickoff
RCA course to be formed for manufacturer

Conyers-Rockdale celebrated the start of construction on a $30 million, 500,000 square foot center on Gees Mill Road that will consolidate three or four facilities for refrigeration manufacturing giant Hillphoenix.

The ceremony Thursday at the Georgia International Horse Park’s Carriage Room was attended by government and company officials and highlighted the roles city, county, economic development coordinators, private capital groups and local company managers played in putting together the deal to keep Hillphoenix in Rockdale. The company had been looking at sites in Conyers and Covington.

The new facility will consolidate three of Hillphoenix’s facilities in Rockdale and one in Newton under the same roof and will be the workplace of about 900 employees. The building, financed by Ashley Capital in a $30 million 15-year build-to-suit lease, also allows for future growth of the facility. 

City Councilman Chris Bowen said, “Hillphoenix is a manufacturing giant and a true cornerstone to businesses that has shaped and made Conyers what it is today… We know how blessed we are that Hillphoenix didn’t have to look too far and chose to stay here.”

Rockdale Commission Chairman Richard Oden said a creative and successful company like Hillphoenix would only serve to draw other businesses to the area which would create more jobs for the local economy.

Hillphoenix CEO Bill Johnson said “You guys made it really easy for us to make this decision.” 

“It’s not just putting a building up. We needed roads reworked, we needed intersections reworked. We have 1,000 employees and we need to get those employees on the road so they’re not just sitting waiting to get out.”

Local incentives offered included $4.1 million tax abatement by the City of Conyers, facilitation by the county of road projects and intersection reworkings, and more accurate water and sewer readings.

According to Johnson, the new facility will house a world-class design center with a virtual supermarket inside for store representatives to see the refrigerated display products.

Johnson also highlighted the program Rockdale Career Academy and Newton Career and Academy will be developing for students in refrigeration manufacturing. 

“We already are the world leader in training for refrigeration. We’ve trained over 18,000 people over the last three years,” said Johnson. “We’re really excited about being able to open that up.”

RCA CEO Miki Edwards said this would be a first for the career academy in developing a program for a manufacturer and in working with the Newton College and Career Academy.

“We’re excited about that,” said Edwards. “We had such good results with the hospital, that’s something we want to build.” The curriculum is not likely to be ready by fall but RCA students are already being interviewed for work based apprenticeships with Hillphoenix, said Edwards. 

Hillphoenix, a leading manufacturer of refrigerated display cases, has 11 locations, including in Virginia, Iowa, Texas, California, Arizona, and Mexico, according to the company website. Phoenix Refrigeration began in Rockdale in 1988 and was purchased in 1993 by the Dover Corporation, a Fortune 100 company. Phoenix acquired the Hill company in 1994.