SmileDirect

SmileDirectClub executives on Thursday announced they will build an aligner factory in Columbia that will employ more than 600 people over the next five years.

Downtown Nashville-based SmileDirect will invest $34 million to renovate and prepare an existing building, the address of which was not immediately available Thursday morning. The company also runs manufacturing operations in Antioch, where it leases buildings with 131,000 and 35,000 square feet that house hundreds of employees, and the Maury County project will add to executives’ peace of mind when it comes to back-up plans, a release notes.

“Having a second facility located in Maury County allows our team the ability to safely travel between our manufacturing locations, and provides us the additional manufacturing capacity and strong talent pool we need as we continue our global expansion,” Dan Baker, SmileDirect’s global head of supply chain, said in the statement. “We are looking forward to further expanding our presence in Tennessee.”

Word of six-year-old SmileDirect’s plans to expand regionally comes just a few months after its leaders closed a brand new plant in the Austin area — a move for which it took a one-time charge of about $25 million — that had been projected to employ more than 800 people. On the company’s second-quarter earnings call last month, CFO Kyle Wailes said execs were eyeing sites closer to home for extra manufacturing capacity.

“So as we looked at redundancies, especially given some of the recent natural disasters that have happened here in the Nashville area, we wanted the ability to leverage our existing team members that we have in the time of a disaster,” Wailes said. “And so we're looking at facilities that are closer to Tennessee where we can leverage that team member footprint in a much leaner way.”

Shares of SmileDirect (Ticker: SDC) fell 1.5 percent Wednesday to $11.75. Year to date, they are up about 40 percent although they are still well off the price at which they went public two years ago.

This post originally appeared in our partner publication, the Nashville Post

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