Gray lands BMW plant contract

Lexington-based Gray Construction has been named the prime contractor for a $750 million expansion of the BMW auto assembly plant in Spartanburg, S.C.

"It's the largest automotive project we have ever done," said Jill Wilson, Gray's vice president of marketing. The contract also is the largest ever received by the company and the building will be the third largest Gray has ever built.

The expansion will be adjacent to the original BMW factory and will have 1.2 million square feet. About 500 employees will produce the next generation of the BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle at the new facility.

Even though the plant is in South Carolina, "projects like this mean a lot to our Lexington-based employees, especially during turbulent economic times like today," Wilson said. "We feel blessed to have a good backlog with customers like BMW."

Gray, which is ranked sixth nationally among auto plant builders, has 280 employees in Lexington and more than 500 nationwide.

The company's president and CEO is Jim Gray, vice mayor of Lexington.

Gray has completed 305 auto facilities totaling more than 31 million square feet for such manufacturers as Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Nissan, and such major parts suppliers as Johnson Controls and Dana Corp.

Gray also has built warehouses and distribution centers for major retailers such as Lowes, Spiegel and Best Buy. Two of those buildings were larger in size than the BMW plant expansion announced this week.

The BMW contract includes some work to be done by other contractors, but BMW is not disclosing how much will be received by each contractor, Gray Construction said.

A family owned company, Gray's annual business volume averages $525 million. In addition to its Lexington headquarters, Gray has offices in Alabama, California, South Carolina, Virginia and Tokyo, Japan.