2020 Georgia GEAR Award Winners Announced

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) announced the five companies who earned 2020 Georgia Emerging Automotive Recognition (GEAR) Awards after holding presentations in the winners’ communities throughout the week in accordance with state executive orders and public health guidelines. Previously known as the Georgia Automotive Awards, the updated GEAR Awards, for 2020 and beyond, are designed to recognize forward movement in the state’s automotive and mobility industries through innovation and emerging technologies.

“It’s a pleasure to celebrate the five 2020 Georgia GEAR Award winners,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “The state’s automotive industry – from manufacturing parts to developing the mobility of the future – is a major driver of jobs and innovation. I congratulate each of our winners on their resilience and thank them for their continued commitment to creating opportunities for Georgians and strengthening our economy.

Nominations for companies from across the state were reviewed and decided by a diverse committee of experts who retain a deep understanding of the automotive and manufacturing industries.

The 2020 GEAR Award winners are:

  • Supplier of the Year, employing 200+ people: Nifco KTW America, Toccoa
  • Supplier of the Year, employing 199 or fewer people: Sangsin Technology America, McDonough
  • Transportation Equipment Manufacturer of the Year: Kubota Manufacturing of America Corporation, Gainesville
  • Automotive Innovation Award: Panasonic Automotive Systems, Peachtree City
  • Citizenship Award: Freudenberg NOK Sealing Technologies, Cleveland

Socially distanced award presentations recognizing these companies, including one completely virtual ceremony, were conducted by leaders from the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Global Commerce division and community economic development partners.

“Our winners’ dedication to their employees and to putting forth the best product for their customers has been critical to strengthening the state’s diverse automotive and mobility ecosystem,” said GDEcD Deputy Commissioner of Global Commerce Scott McMurray. “It was a pleasure to present our winners with their awards and personally thank them on behalf of the State of Georgia for their work.”

Georgia is home to more than 200 automotive-related facilities, and the automotive industry contributes more than $3 billion to the state’s economy. The state’s skilled workforce, strong logistics network, and central location among Southeastern Original Equipment Manufacturers continues to attract automotive and mobility suppliers from across the U.S. and internationally.


Supplier of the Year – employing 200+ people: Nifco KTW America
Nifco’s Georgia location in Toccoa currently employs more than 350 Georgians. Nifco is a globally known Tier 1 supplier of automotive parts and their customers include names like BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and many more.


Supplier of the Year – employing 199 or fewer people: Sangsin Technology America
Supplying to companies like Vanguard, Great Dane and others, Sangsin continues to innovate and demonstrate great leadership within the mobility industry. Their manufacturing facility in McDonough currently employs approximately 30 people in Georgia.


Transportation Equipment Manufacturer of the Year: Kubota Manufacturing of America Corporation Kubota’s North American headquarters are located in Gainesville, Georgia, where approximately 3,000 Georgians help make top-of-the-line Georgia Made™ RTVs, Tractors, Lawn Tractors, Mowers, and more. Recently, Kubota broke ground on their North American Research and Development Center, marking their fourth major expansion within the state.

Regarding the award, Kubota Manufacturing of America President Hirohiko Arai said, “We are very honored to be recognized by the State of Georgia for this award. As a manufacturer in this field, our strength comes from our products, our processes and most importantly, from our people.”


Automotive Innovation Award: Panasonic Automotive Systems
From ride-sharing apps to more car owners purchasing electric vehicles, the automotive industry is rapidly evolving, and Panasonic continues to innovate and help numerous Original Equipment Manufacturers adapt to the modern consumer. Panasonic’s Georgia facility is located in Peachtree City and employs roughly 1,500 people.

Regarding the award, Panasonic Automotive President Scott Kirchner said, “At Panasonic Automotive, it is our core mission to develop innovative products that pave the way to safer roadways and a transformed mobility experience. We do this through remarkable talent and culture, as our people are our most sustainable competitive advantage. We could not be more honored to receive this award recognizing the innovation and dedication of the Panasonic Automotive Employees and look forward to continuing to be a part of Georgia’s emerging automotive footprint.”

Freudenberg NOK Sealing Technologies

Citizenship Award: Freudenberg NOK Sealing Technologies
Located in Cleveland, Georgia, Freudenberg’s dedicated ‘Culture Team’ proudly serves its community through several initiatives. A few include Freudenberg’s engineers assisting with ‘Rocket Day’ at White County Middle School, donating funds to White County Middle School’s engineering program, planting trees with the 4-H, and more. The company has had operations in Georgia for more than 30 years, where their facility employs roughly 1,200 Georgians.

Source: Georgia Department of Economic Development