Auto parts supplier Brose Tuscaloosa Inc. is celebrating the completion of an 80,000-square-foot expansion, an investment that company leaders say will help the company grow its business in the future.

“It definitely helps us to be more competitive. It allows us the option to grow and bring new customers and business to the area,” said plant manager Jim Barbaretta.

The company was recently awarded a contract to produce seat adjustment components for Ford’s F-150, Barbaretta said. The parts supplier in Vance now employs 700, but that number could grow to 800 in the future, he said.

“This does create some new opportunities for us,” Barbaretta said of the expansion.

The plant is a subsidiary of Brose North America and produces door and seat components, cooling fans and other parts for auto manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Ford, BMW, and Volvo.

The diverse range of automakers that the company serves with supplies is one of the strengths of the company, the manager said.

“We are already in discussion for new customers with new opportunities in the future,” he said.

Barbaretta said the company has the potential to continue to grow during the next five years, no matter which direction the industry takes.

“The products we have will be part of the future. Not matter what happens with electrification of vehicles, they are still going to need seats and windows and doors,” he said.

In addition to Mercedes’ plans for an electric fleet, Barbaretta also noted the company is supplying cooling fans to electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors.

As part of the expansion, the company added more than 80,000 square feet, including warehouse space, offices, a new cafeteria, and an acoustic chamber and other measurement lab space.

In the past few years, Brose Tuscaloosa has invested $14 million to expand the facility and has added more than 400 jobs as its business has grown, according to the company.

The additional warehouse space onsite replaced space previously rented by the company, Barbaretta said.

The acoustic chamber is large enough for vehicles to drive in, Barbaretta said. The new chamber can be used for quality control and research and design. The new measurement lab is used for quality control, he said.

The plant also recently became a foreign trade zone, where merchandise can be held without being subject to certain custom duties, according to the company. Brose added fencing and security guard shacks on the perimeter as part of the zone, which are in use at other companies in Vance as well, Barbaretta said.

“Basically, it allows us to bring in our product and manage our activities on site. It reduces our cost of overseas material,” he said.

The expansion was completed in May with the opening of the cafeteria, which offers employees an on-site meal option during three of the shifts.

With scarce dining options nearby especially during late shifts, Barbaretta said the addition of the cafeteria is an amenity that helps improve the quality of life for employees while also helping the company compete in a marketplace where demand for skilled workers is high.

The company subsidizes about 45 percent of the cost of the meals, Barbaretta said.

“It is definitely a big advantage. It is an employee favorite,” he said of the new cafeteria.