The governor of South Carolina was unable to attend but that didn’t prevent ESAB Welding and Cutting Products from formally opening its new manufacturing facility in Union County Wednesday morning.
ESAB Global Marketing Director Sue Bartholomew opened the ceremony by announcing that due to legislative issues requiring her attention in Columbia, Gov. Nikki Haley was unable to attend. She said the governor nevertheless plans to visit the facility in the near future.
Standing in for Haley was A. Daniel Young, executive director of the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development, who, together with ESAB Vice President of Operations Lanny Pickens, cut the ribbon to formally open the facility which is located at 256 Midway Drive. Prior to helping cut the ribbon, Young spoke briefly on ESAB’s decision to locate in Union County, the impact of Gov. Haley’s policies on the recruitment of new industry and the expansion of existing industry, and recent economic development in Union County.
“They have an existing facility in Florence and this is their second facility (in South Carolina), they could have put this facility anywhere in the world that they wanted to and they chose South Carolina,” Young said. “Gov. Haley’s policies and involvement in economic development is bringing about a manufacturing renaissance in South Carolina.
“It is a good day for Union County,” he said. “Not long ago, Gestamp announced their expansion. You’ve got the ribbon-cutting here at ESAB where they’ve already got a hundred people on the payroll. Next week there will be the grand opening at the Belk distribution center. Things are happening in Union County.”
ESAB is the acronym for the Swedish words “Elektriska Svetsnings AktieBolaget” which translated mean “Electric Welding Incorporated.” The company was founded in Sweden in 1904 by Oscar Kjellberg, the inventor of the covered welding electrode. More than a century later, ESAB is a global company with more than 9,000 employees in more than 122 countries. The company has manufacturing facilities in Europe, Asia, North America, and South America engaged in a wide variety of welding and cutting applications including manual arc welding, filler metals, plasma cutting equipment, mechanized cutting systems, gas apparatus, automation welding, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and scarfing machines.
The Midway facility, which manufactures high-performance MIG and Sub Arc welding wire, is part of ESAB’s efforts to meet the growing demand for its products and services in North America. It will house production lines for the company’s premium bran AristoRod and copper-coated wires.
“We believe that we will continue to see steady growth in the North American market, and this move to Union County represents an increase in production capacity and the transfer of lines that were being manufactured overseas,” Bartholomew said Wednesday morning. “ESAB remains committed to consistent delivery of our premium-quality wires, and to leading the industry in technology and support service.
“Thanks to the support of Governor Nikki Haley and her office, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, and the people of Union County, ESAB has opened this multi-million dollar facility,” she said. “The Midway Facility has created 101 new jobs here, in addition to the investment in the community resulting from our complete upgrade of the facility.”
The jobs created included full teams of maintenance and electrical staff, operations team members, and safety and quality team members. Nineteen of the manufacturing lead operators completed a rigorous 12-week training program at established ESAB facilities around the world.
The upgrade of the Midway facility, which was built in the 1970s, involved a multi-million dollar refit of the building including new power distribution, new piping, and a complete fume collection system. The fire suppression infrastructure was upgraded, and the office has been remodeled and equipped with new furnishings. New lab equipment and new material handling equipment were installed, and the entire interior was given a fresh coat of paint.
While the entire facility has been upgraded, only part of it is currently in use. In remarks prior to the ribbon-cutting, Pickens said that approximately 125,000 square feet of the facility remains empty. He said the company decided to purchase a building that was twice the size of what it would initially need in order to have space available for future expansion. Pickens said ESAB has seen steady growth in its production and expects further growth in the future. He said as that growth occurs the company will make use of the remaining space at the Midway facility to expand its operations and meet the demands of the North American market.
For more information about ESAB, visit www.esabna.com or call 1-800-ESAB-123.