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S.C. manufacturers recognized for growth, achievements

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The Salute to Manufacturing Awards Luncheon took place Wednesday as part of the S.C. Manufacturing Conference and Expo. (Photo/Robert Klemm)

Fifteen companies were recognized during the S.C. Manufacturing Conference for their expansions, new facilities and improved technologies, as well as the overall impact they have on their respective communities.

The annual Salute to Manufacturing Awards Luncheon was held Wednesday in Greenville by SC Biz News, GSA Business Report and the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

The winners:

Tom O’Hanlan, CEO of Sealevel Systems Inc. in Liberty, won the Outstanding Manufacturing Lifetime Service Award, which recognizes an individual whose contributions have made a significant, lasting impact on the S.C. manufacturing community over the years. O’Hanlan started the company in 1986. Today, Sealevel Systems manufactures computer hardware, including communication adapters, and creates software.

Fab Fours, a Lancaster-based manufacturer of steel bumpers and truck accessories, won the Innovator of the Year Award. The award recognizes a company that has transformed its business and bettered a manufacturing community through innovation, including new devices, ideas, inventions and processes.

Shaw Industries Group Inc. of Columbia won the Outreach Award, honoring manufacturers making a tangible, measurable impact on S.C. communities. The flooring company has 22,000 employees worldwide and a carpet fiber plant in Lexington County.

AHT Cooling Systems USA Inc. of Ladson won the Emerging Manufacturer of the Year Award, honoring a company that has been in operation for five or fewer years and has demonstrated superior performance. The company, which manufactures custom refrigerated and frozen merchandising solutions, said in 2017 it plans to expand in Charleston County and create 70 jobs.

The following companies won The Carlisle Associates Smart Move South Carolina Awards:

  • Volvo Car Group in Berkeley County, for New Facility — Lowcountry. The Sweden-based, Chinese-owned automaker invested $500 million to begin building its S60 sedan in Berkeley County this year. By 2021, the company will have invested $1 billion in its campus to produce two vehicles and will employ 4,000 people.
  • Samsung South Carolina in Newberry County, for New Facility — Midlands. Samsung began commercial production at its new plant in January after it invested $380 million into an existing facility. The plant now employs 650 people and produces washing machines on two production lines.
  • Arthrex Inc. and Keurig Green Mountain, tied for New Facility — Upstate. Arthrex, a global orthopedic medical device company, said in 2017 it plans to launch manufacturing operations in Anderson County and create more than 1,000 jobs. Keurig Green Mountain said in May it will invest $350 million in a new roasting and packaging facility in Moore, creating 500 new jobs. The company produces specialty coffee and single-serve brewing systems.
  • Mercedes-Benz Vans in Ladson, for Facility Expansion — Lowcountry. The German automaker announced plans in 2015 to bring full-scale production capabilities for its Sprinter vans to the United States, investing $500 million to expand its existing campus beyond a reassembly site. Sprinter production began this year. Mercedes now employs 900 people in the Lowcountry, with plans to employ 1,300 by 2020.
  • Ruiz Food Products, for Facility Expansion — Midlands. The company expanded its existing Florence County operations in 2017. The $79 million investment is expected to add 705 new jobs over the next several years.
  • BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer, for Facility Expansion — Upstate. The German automaker said in summer 2017 it plans over the next several years to invest $600 million into the plant and hire 1,000 workers, for a total of 10,000.

The following companies won the Transformation and Operational Excellence Awards, given to companies that can demonstrate real-world results through continuous improvement and operational excellence, tools and techniques:

  • Komatsu America Corp. in Newberry, a manufacturer of earthmover equipment, for companies with at least 100 employees.
  • Solvay Specialty Polymers of Rock Hill — which creates polymers for a variety of industries, including automotive and health care — for companies with 21-100 employees.
  • Atlantic Tooling and Fabricating of Quinby, which produces tooling for manufacturers, for 20 employees or fewer.
  • Wholesale Boutique, a producer of home goods, bags, accessories and apparel in Myrtle Beach, for minority-owned companies.

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