A Chinese-owned company that makes memory foam pillows and mattresses opened its first American manufacturing plant in La Vergne on Tuesday.
Sinomax, which has provided products for Walmart stores since 2006, invested $28 million in the new facility and is expected to create 350 local jobs.
For years, Chinese factories have manufactured many of the products sold to American consumers. But Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., says 85 percent of customers want to purchase more American-made products.
A few years ago, Walmart announced it would purchase $250 billion in products from companies — like Sinomax — that support and create American jobs.
“When it comes to creating jobs, we feel, quite frankly, like we are putting our money where our mouth is,” Bratspies said at the facility's opening on Tuesday.
Foreign companies are also looking at expanding in the United States, and many have opened their doors in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, 900 foreign companies employ more than 120,000 workers in the state.
Sinomax’s remodeled 500,000 square-foot facility was once a Whirlpool factory. It was boarded up in 2008 when the company moved its operations to Mexico. Almost a decade has passed since those jobs left the community, southeast of Nashville. But initiatives like this could bring them back.
Products made at the new Sinomax facility will bear the “Made in America” emblem, and the majority will be sold at Walmart stores nationwide. According to the state, 15 to 20 percent of the goods will be exported overseas — including to China.