Overfinch, the British enhancer of luxury SUVs that announced last year its plans to bring 41 jobs to the Dan River Region over five years, built six vehicles at its facility in Danville nearly two weeks ago and hopes to build up to 100 next year.
“We are building and selling cars now,” said Alex Sloane, vice president of Overfinch North America. “We’ve got a cross-section of customers.”
Majority of its U.S. customers are from New York, Florida and California, but there have also been clients from Virginia, Louisiana, Texas and Washington, Sloane said during an interview Thursday morning at the Overfinch facility at 500 Stinson Drive.
Overfinch has been building enhanced Range Rovers since 1975.
Since its announcement in July 2016, Overfinch in Danville — the company’s only U.S. location — has two employees and is offering a position to a third, Sloane said.
Overfinch began operations here in April.
“We’ve only recently started building cars in this facility,” Sloane said.
The facility has built a considerable number of cars since April — “in line with our expectations,” he said. The company has used local subcontractors to help build cars until it gets established.
Overfinch North America made the announcement in July 2016 at the Farnborough International Air Show at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, England. The company is supposed to bring 41 new jobs within five years of the start of operations.
The company has no intention of opening another U.S. distribution center.
The pace of hiring those workers will depend on demand, said Julie Allen, Overfinch North America business manager.
“That’s going to be sales-driven,” Allen said.
Demand will increase in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the first three years of a new model of vehicle, Allen said.
Overfinch North America in Danville is a sales, assembly and distribution center, with parts coming from its parent company in the UK, Allen said. Those parts are put onto vehicles or distributed, Allen said.
The company is the U.S. arm for a UK company.
When Overfinch North America in Danville has enough demand, it will begin making some of its own parts. The first thing they want to produce on their own is carbon fiber pieces used for exterior enhancements, Allen said.
“The carbon fiber is essential in our exterior cosmetic package,” she said.
Overfinch North America plans to eventually become a manufacturing facility.
“That is going to be determined by demand in the U.S.,” Sloane said.
The company enhances Range Rovers according to customers’ specifications. Vehicles cost from $120,000 to $300,000, with the average price $170,000, depending on models and customer specifications, Sloane said.
Danville Economic Development Director Telly Tucker said Overfinch — like any business — will “ramp up at its own pace, according to whatever goals it wants to achieve.”
There was a lot of construction at the Stinson Drive building during the first six months, Tucker said. They had to go through licensing to be a certified automobile dealer in multiple states, Tucker said.
“Those things take time,” Tucker said. “Unless you’re in the industry, you don’t know the minutiae of what it takes to start up a new business.”