Boogook's head factory in Ulsan was built in 1987. Photo: Boogook Industries Co. Ltd.

A Korean auto parts supplier is helping breathe new life into a massive industrial building that sat vacant in Macon for about 15 years. 

Boogook Georgia LLC, a subsidiary of the a Ulsan-based Boogook Industries Co. Ltd., will invest $6.8 million into space at the former Brown and Williamson cigarette plant, which in 2021 came under new ownership from a California investment group. 

The 2 million-square-foot property at 2600 Weaver Road long sat empty as previous owners tried unsuccessfully to find a single tenant to take over the whole plant. 

Industrial Realty Group, the new owner, has been investing in new lighting and other improvements while working to subdivide the space to make it attractive to smaller firms. 

Boogook itself is putting in $300,000 to make its own customizations to the 130,000 square feet it plans to occupy through a lease, according to the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Development Authority. 

The $6.8 million is to support ongoing operations as the plant employs 80 people when it opens in 2024. Boogook specializes in steel and nylon tube manufacturing, making fluid-carry systems for brake, fuel, steering and exhaust lines. The company’s announcement comes as Hyundai ramps up construction on its $5.5 billion electric-vehicle factory in Ellabell, just off Interstate 16 near Savannah. The Boogook plant sits two miles from that interstate. Hyundai and Kia, which also has a plant in Georgia, are among Boogook’s global customers. 

Among the products listed on the Boogook website are an EV coolant tube that circulates fluid to keep the car’s battery cool, and a similar product that works to reduce heat from the electric motor. The company also makes a pipe to transfer hydrogen from high-pressure to low-pressure tanks within fuel cell vehicles. 

Stephen Adams, executive director of the industrial development authority, said the investment shows the region’s advantages for auto suppliers and the way the community is poised to reap benefits from this growing sector. 

“Middle Georgia is an extremely attractive and competitive area for these companies, and we’re excited to see how this industry becomes a key player in our future economic and job growth,” Mr. Adams said in a release. 

Along with two Korean factories employing more than 240 people, Boogook has plants in China, India and Vietnam. The Macon facility will be its first in the United States.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...