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Winter 2017

Business by the bushel Agribusiness feeds S.C. economy

CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED 1439 Stuart Engals Blvd. Suite 200 Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464 SC Biz News

County Spotlight: Williamsburg | Trending: Agriculture in S.C. | Roaring Twenties

Table of


Sponsored by:

18 In search of fresh food: SCDA’s Certified SC Grown

program marks 10 years of connecting consumers to local produce

24 Finding your niche: Small farms chase success with specialty crops

32 Growing S.C. agribusiness is a worldwide endeavor 36 Agriculture exports on the rise at Port of Charleston 42 Clean and safe: Farmers face new regulations on produce safety

46 King bean: Former produce market built during

New Deal era now a community center of commerce

52 Timber on private lands fuels

growth for S.C. forestry industry

Front Cover: James Heatley (right) assists a customer selecting a rutabaga while she shops for vegetables and fruits during a recent November weekend at the State Farmers Market in West Columbia. Left: An array of South Carolina-grown fruits and vegetables are displayed at the State Farmers Market in West Columbia. (Photos/Chuck Crumbo)






12 County Spotlight: Williamsburg

7 Upfront

77 S.C. Delivers

10 Research SC

80 1,000 Words

Editor - Licia Jackson ljackson@scbiznews.com • 803.726.7546

From the

Associate Editor - Steve McDaniel smcdaniel@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3123


Creative Director - Ryan Wilcox rwilcox@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3117 Senior Graphic Designer - Jane James jjames@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3118 LOWCOUNTRY NEWSROOM Managing Editor - Andy Owens aowens@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3142

Dear Reader,

Senior Copy Editor - Beverly Barfield bbarfield@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3115

Don’t you just love to take a drive through the countryside this time of year? Rolling pastures with a few cattle or horses grazing, framed by evergreen trees; perhaps a farm stand here or there; open fields lying fallow or newly planted with winter crops. Oh, yes, we focus so much of the year on the high-tech and modern manufacturing companies in South Carolina, but we must never forget that agriculture is a big player in the state’s economy. That is the focus of our winter issue, and this year we are pleased to partner with the S.C. Department of Agriculture to produce a magazine about farmers and farming. In these pages you can read about the success of the Certified SC Grown program, 10 years old now. The marketing program created a brand for South Carolina’s produce, helping consumers find locally grown food while boosting business for farmers. You can learn about niche farming, a win for small farmers, and the growth of forestry products. Also of interest are the role Licia Jackson of South Carolina ports in agricultural exports and the plans for Editor, implementing new produce safety regulations. For a side trip, we SCBIZ Magazine take you on a visit to Lake City’s venerable National Bean Market Museum. Even our research feature focuses on agricultural products, with a fascinating look at the value of eating watermelon in reducing inflammation in the body. South Carolina, by the way, is the fifth largest producer of watermelon in the United States. Also in this issue, we honor South Carolina’s fastest growing companies. You can read about the Roaring Twenties winners, who were honored recently by SC Biz News. The companies, 20 large and 20 small, hail from across the state, from Travelers Rest to Myrtle Beach. They are in enterprises ranging from boating to T-shirts, with a lot of others in between. We hope you enjoy reading this issue. We’ve had a great time putting it together.

Staff Writer - Liz Segrist lsegrist@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3119 Staff Writer - Patrick Hoff phoff@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3144 Assistant Editor, Digital Media - Ashley Sprouse asprouse@scbiznews.com • 843.843.3145 Research Specialist - Melissa Verzaal mverzaal@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3104 Graphic Designer - Andrew Sprague asprague@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3128 Assistant Graphic Designer - Emily Williams ewilliams@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3124 Assistant Graphic Designer - Jessica Stout jstout@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3113 MIDLANDS NEWSROOM Editor - Melinda Waldrop mwaldrop@scbiznews.com • 803.726.7542 Staff Writer - Travis Boland tboland@scbiznews.com • 803.726.7543 Research Specialist - Patrice Mack pmack@scbiznews.com • 803.726.7544 UPSTATE NEWSROOM Staff Writer - Teresa Cutlip tcutlip@scbiznews.com • 864.720.1223 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Director of Business Development - Mark Wright mwright@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3143 Senior Account Executive - Alan James ajames@scbiznews.com • 803.726.7540 Senior Account Executive - Sue Gordon sgordon@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3111 Senior Account Executive - Robert Reilly rreilly@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3107 Account Executive - Sara Cox scox@scbiznews.com • 843.849.3109 Account Executive - Cheryl Froman cfroman@scbiznews.com • 864.720.1220 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Trip DuBard, Carol Edwards, Marsha Hewitt, Susan Levi Wallach, Hugh Weathers CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Jeff Blake, Chuck Crumbo


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VIEWPOINT Farm kids, indeed


attended an agribusiness event several years ago and one of the speakers had a question for the audience: What is the best product coming out of American farms? His answer wasn’t what you would expect. His answer was kids. That sentiment was reiterated several months ago when I was researching information for the column I wrote in this space for our automotive issue. I asked a manager of one of the hot rod shops I featured where he looked for young talent. I anticipated his answer was going to be the local technical college. But he surprised me by saying farms. He had found farm kids were best suited to the kind of work his business performed. Farm kids, he said, already knew what work was and didn’t think twice about picking up a wrench or a torch and repairing or fabricating anything needed to get the job done. They grew up problem-solving to get a crop out of the field before it spoiled, and that translated directly to the kind of on-yourfeet innovative thinking and craftsmanship his customers needed. Farm kids, indeed. A generation or so ago, farm kids represented the American ideal. Our culture celebrated their accomplishments in books and movies. It was a shared experience. You grew up on a farm, learned about family, faith, community and hard work. Then you

might move to the big city, taking those values with you, and fulfilled your dreams. Well, that worked for a couple of generations. Now we’re running out of farm kids. The work is hard, hot and dusty. And frankly, driving a tractor can be pretty boring compared to all the other options kids are exposed to in our digitally connected world. Plus, our culture isn’t celebrating that kid any longer. The new ideal kid of popular culture is in a dorm room or a basement somewhere playing video games at 3 a.m. and dreaming up the next big phone app. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Until we run out of food. So maybe we ought to pay more atten-

tion to farm kids. What if we could connect the kid in the basement with the kid on the farm? The common denominator between the two is innovation. The kid on the farm and the kid in the basement are both full of great potential for innovation. The missing ingredient for both of them is entrepreneurial mentoring. The latent expertise that dwells within the business community at large is the knowledge and experience of taking ideas to market. Let’s figure out a way to get the kids growing up on our S.C. farms excited about the possibilities of creating new products, processes and equipment by exposing them to successful entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of momentum right now in the farm-to-table movement. Our state’s restaurateurs are getting international attention because Southern cuisine made with local ingredients is hip. In addition, renegades in food trucks are upending the traditional brick-and-mortar model all over the state. These are exciting times to be a foodie in the South, and kids growing up on our farms need to feel a part of it. Let’s get serious about connecting the business community with farm kids. Otherwise they will go from being our best product to our biggest export. Grady Johnson President and Group Publisher, SC Biz News

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From the South Carolina

COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE Dear Fellow South Carolinians, Agribusiness is thriving in South Carolina. With an annual impact of $42 billion and providing over 212,000 jobs, it’s a vital part of the state’s economy and has a very promising outlook. The Department of Agriculture established the Office of Agribusiness Development to help more companies take advantage of 4.8 million acres of farmland, the country’s most efficient port, and our strategic location within 1,000 miles of 75 percent of the US population. Yes, South Carolina is perfectly positioned for new agribusiness development. Agricultural entrepreneurship plays an Hugh E. Weathers, important and exciting role in the state’s South Carolina economic development landscape. The inCommissioner of tersection of niche farming and continued Agriculture consumer interest in local food is creating more possibilities for new farmers in South Carolina. Our department will soon announce initiatives to help the next generation of innovative thinkers put their ideas to work in agriculture. We’re

showcasing some of these farmers in a new television campaign that’s all about the roots of our food. Even if you’ve never stepped foot on a farm, you can be an ambassador of agriculture. Do you buy Certified SC Grown products when you see them? Do you know where your food comes from? Many residents in South Carolina recognize the Certified SC Grown brand, which is 10 years old and enjoys an 80% recognition rate among consumers. Whether you’re a business leader, legislator, educator or consumer, farmers in South Carolina depend on your support — when you make policy and when you make dinner. Thank you for keeping agriculture top of mind when you make choices for your family and your business. Working together, we will continue to grow this industry that feeds South Carolina in more ways than one. Sincerely, Hugh E. Weathers South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture


A South Carolina farm field is planted in watermelon vines. The state is the fifthleading producer of watermelon in the U.S. (Photo/S.C. Department of Agriculture)



regional news | data

Society Hill: historic downtown for sale


ant to buy a town? Preservation South Carolina has one for sale to someone who’ll give one of the oldest communities in Darlington County a face lift. Society Hill was settled in 1777 by a group of farmers called the St. David’s Society, according to historian Horace Fraser Rudisill. The group wanted to promote education and quickly became the cultural center of the Pee Dee. The Gardner House in Society Hill is a threeNonprofit Preservation S.C. has bedroom 1860 Greek Revival cottage, for sale acquired the historic downtown corwith original woodwork. (Photo/Provided) ridor of Society Hill and will allow the secured the ability to purchase and rehab properties to be sold to anyone who has what is essentially an entire downtown entrepreneurial spirit, loves old places corridor in a small historic town with and has the means to restore part, or all, tremendous potential.” of the properties. Though Society Hill had only 563 “It is a historic preservationist’s dream,” said Mike Bedenbaugh, executive residents in the 2010 census, it sees a bevy of daily through traffic. It sits among five director of Preservation S.C.. “We have

larger communities, including Florence, as well as along a connector to I-95. A recent traffic count found more than 8,000 vehicles passing through each day. According to a Preservation S.C. release, there are 13 acres of land available for purchase, including four historic buildings: two homes and two stores. The homes can be used as residences or businesses. The largest structure, the 7,000 squarefoot Coker Rogers Store, would be ideal for a farm-to-table restaurant, Bedenbaugh said. All the property would sell for around $300,000, but the group would take the best offer from someone with a good plan. Proceeds from the sale will go into a regional revolving preservation fund the nonprofit has established for the ninecounty region of the Pee Dee.

FAST FACTS | Agriculture in S.C.

Story begins on

Page 18

Agribusiness is the number one industry in South Carolina with a $42 billion economic impact, accounting for nearly 213,000 jobs.

South Carolina’s top five cash crops

2 Turkeys

3 Cattle & Calves

4 Chicken Eggs

5 Cotton


1 Broilers

Source: S.C. Department of Agriculture




International African American Museum receives major donations



he International African American Museum planned for Charleston is well on its way to fundraising goals. Most recently, it has received a $10 million grant, its largest private donation to date, from Lilly Endowment Inc. and $1 million from Lake City native and philanthropist Darla Moore and her foundation. The news comes on the heels of the museum’s announcement of a $500,000 donation from Wells Fargo & Co. Moore’s donation is to the Founders Fund, the capital campaign that will fund design and construction of the museum. Moore was vice president of Rainwater Inc., a private investment company founded by her husband, until 2012. She has donated to the University of South Carolina, whose business school bears her name, and to Clemson University. She also helped create the Charleston Parks Conservancy, a public-private partnership that works to improve and preserve Charleston’s public parks. Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based

The International African American Museum will be built on the Charleston waterfront at the former site of Gadsden’s Wharf. (Rendering/Provided)

foundation that supports community development, religion and education efforts and projects. Its donation will be used in four ways: • $5 million will fund design and construction of the museum. • $4 million will be used to create an endowment. • $500,000 will fund the inaugural changing exhibit on African-American religion and music. • $500,000 will be used in efforts to engage faith-based communities. The $4 million endowment will support curation and programming related to religion and spirituality with scholars, consultants and

religious leaders. Museum organizers hope to grow the endowment to $25 million. The museum will be built at the former site of Gadsden’s Wharf, where the majority of enslaved Africans entering the United States through Charleston disembarked during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The museum is scheduled to break ground in early 2018 with a projected 2020 opening. Private funding is expected to cover $25 million of the $75 million project. The city of Charleston and Charleston County have contributed $25 million, and the state is expected to donate the rest, with $14 million committed so far.

New Economic Development Company


Vetroresina MAPAL Inc. Harbor Freight Tools Coca-Cola Consolidated AHT Cooling Systems USA Coast Brewing Trucast KB Biotech Solutions Blue Eye Soft Corp. The Blythe Co. Metromont Corp. SolAmerica Energy Arthrex Inc. Diversey Augusta Fiberflass Coatings Prysmian Group American Scrappers Piedmont Energy Systems Allegheny Technologies Inc. and GE Aviation Collum’s Lumber Products Volvo Cars BorgWarner Inc. Thrace-LINQ

Greenville Greenville Dillon Jasper Charleston Charleston Newberry Dillon Greenville Lancaster Greenville Edgefield Anderson York Barnwell Lexington Dillon York Chester Allendale Berkeley Oconee Dorchester



$7.5M 17 $4M 16 N/A 500 $5M 20 $5M 70 $1.7M 29 $3M 10 $12M 100 N/A 120 $4M 21 $8.8M 100 $13M N/A $69M 1,000 $6.1M 400 $625,000 12 $15M 30 $15.5M 200 $4.2M 29 N/A 29 $2M 10 $520M 1,910 $71.9M 160 $9M 10


Here are announcements made in South Carolina since September 2017

Source: S.C. Department of Commerce



Research SC Researchers explore health benefits of watermelon By Licia Jackson, Editor




uppose you could learn to follow a simple diet that would make you feel better and help protect you against cancer and heart disease? As a side benefit, you would lose extra weight and maintain a healthy body mass index. Yet another plus would be helping local farmers by consuming more of their produce — in this case, watermelon. Such dietary guidelines are in the works based on research by Dr. James R. Hébert, professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and director of the S.C. Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the University of South Carolina. Hébert, a world-renowned nutritional epidemiologist, has developed the Dietary Inflammatory IndexTM (DII®), a measure of how inflammatory individual foods are to a person’s body and organs. The DII® looks at 45 specific food parameters to rate each food. It is based on results of 1,943 research studies published in peer-reviewed literature. “We understood our scoring system is valuable. We’re looking at individual foods,” said Julia F. Houston, MSW, executive director for Connecting Health Innovations. CHI is a company founded by Hébert to focus on leveraging his research results in commercial markets. CHI was funded by the National Watermelon Promotion Board to study the anti-inflammatory effects of watermelon within an individual’s diet. Sonny Dickinson, owner of The Dickinson Group and CHI’s business products manager, is focused on increasing whole foods consumption and increased yields of local farms. South Carolina is the fifth-leading producer of

Watermelons can be grown in all 46 South Carolina counties. Research finds the melon helps with hydration and with preventing chronic inflammation in the body. (Photo/S.C. Department of Agriculture)

watermelon in the U.S. The study exploring the effects of watermelon on reducing systemic inflammation has recently concluded. Participants in the study took part in a series of weekly classes over 12 weeks and were provided meal plans designed to include watermelon in two meals per day. Recipes were developed using the entire melon, including rind and seeds as well as the flesh of the fruit. The participants provided positive feedback from participating in IMAGINETM (Inflammation MAnaGement INtErvention), CHI’s counseling system, which provides culinary sessions, physical activity and stress reduction practices, and one-on-one counseling by DII®-certified counselors, Houston said. Data were collected through questionnaires and blood samples to measure

C-reactive protein, a primary means of tracking inflammation levels and fasting blood sugar levels. As various foods are studied, the Dietary Inflammatory IndexTM can be used to score them on a range from most anti-inflammatory to most pro-inflammatory. A simple grade system, known as the Inflammation Food Grade SystemTM — with A being less inflammatory and F more inflammatory — is reflected on foods and recipes to guide consumers on their healthy foods selections. When chronic inflammation exists in the body, the body’s natural signal to fight an infection never gets turned off, Hébert explained. This causes damage to the body and its organs over time. A person who is in a state of chronic inflammation can’t mount an inflammatory response to new infection.

Additional products and services can be found at http://imaginehealthy.org. CHI has the support of a number of partners, including BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, USC Specialty Clinics, USC’s Faber Entrepreneurship Center, Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers, Office of Economic Engagement and the Columbia/ USC Incubator. It also has received funding from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the South Carolina Research Authority.


Julia Houston and James Hébert have done research on watermelon’s effects on the body. (Photo/Provided)


Consumption of foods that are highly antiinflammatory leads to improved health. A diet that causes inflammation is characterized by foods that are white or colorless, lack flavor or aroma (even if they may have a strong taste, such as sweet or salty), calorie-dense and nutrient-sparse. On the other hand, an anti-inflammatory diet consists mostly of plant-based foods that are colorful, flavorful, aromatic, calorie-sparse and nutrient dense. “We don’t focus on weight,” Hébert said. “If you eat a low DII® diet, you won’t have a weight problem.” Hébert said the researchers have developed a “DII® Certified Anti-Inflammatory™” seal. “We want to put it out there.” In the study of watermelon, data collection for the participants is complete and data processing is in progress. Of 15 participants recruited, 12 completed the study. Preliminary analyses show CRP and fasting sugar levels reduced in the intervention group. Inflammation is a factor in development of cardiovascular disease and of cancer, particularly in the digestive system. Results focusing on diabetes are not as consistent, Hébert said. Other diseases affected by inflammation are arthritis, pulmonary disease, autoimmune and neurological diseases. Watermelon, mostly made up of water, also is valuable for hydration. Cut-up melon has been distributed by growers and the S.C. Department of Agriculture at college football practice and sporting events over the past few years to raise awareness of this property. “The consumer needs to understand what is good and what is bad for them,” Dickinson said. “Watermelon is natural to focus on. You can consume a great deal and it is good for you.” Connecting Health Innovations plans to focus on other foods, such as blueberries, peaches and strawberries, Houston said. The DII ScreenerTM, a free mobile app available on Google Play and iTunes, is a simple tool to identify individuals with potentially pro-inflammatory diets. Scheduled for launch in early 2018 is DIIon-DemandTM , an in-depth online food questionnaire to help individuals monitor their diets and improve their DII® Score.


Sponsored by:

county spotlight


The Kings Tree Trials held at McCutchen Training Center near Kingstree draw horse-racing fans from across the state. (Photo/Marsha Hewitt, SCDA)



W 12

illiamsburg County has been a mainstay of South Carolina’s agricultural economy since the creation of Williamsburg Township along the Black River by King William of England in 1732. The largely rural county still relies heavily on agriculture, but has been busy attracting new technologically advanced manufacturers in recent years. “We want to create opportunities to improve the quality of life for our citizens,” county Supervisor Stanley Pasley said. “We can do that by having a skilled workforce in place and bringing in companies that can offer high-paying jobs.”

Special Advertising Section

Williamsburg C by the numbersounty

Population (2016 Es


Largest Private


Nan Ya Plastics.......... ctor Employers ............................ 1,0 00+ Sykes Enterprises...... ................................ 60 0 DSM Nutritional Prod ucts.......................... 25 0 Palmetto Synthetics .................................. .200 Tupperware.............. ................................ ..2 00 Three D Metal Works ................................ .200 Sources: U.S. Cens us Williamsburg Coun Bureau and ty Development Boar Economic d

COUNTY SPOTLIGHT: WILLIAMSBURG Above, a machine processes fiber at Palmetto Synthetics’ facility in the Williamsburg Cooperative Commerce Centre near Kingstree. The company manufactures specialty synthetic fibers. At right, an employee works in one of the labs at DSM, a nutraceuticals supplier. (Photos/Provided)

The county has three industrial parks and has plans for a new 50,000-square-foot speculative building in 2018. According to Pasley, the overall goal is to expand its tax base by bringing high-paying jobs to the county. “We want to create and develop an environment that is attractive and conducive to industry and growth,” he said. “We have shown we are willing to work with companies looking to locate here with incentives, tax breaks and credits, and utility needs that

will make them profitable.” Pasley, in his 11th year as supervisor, said diversification has been a focus of economic development during his tenure. Agriculture still plays a prominent role in the county’s economy, he said, but skilled, advanced manufacturing is what will help the county move forward. The county’s unemployment rate has improved significantly in recent years, dropping to 7.5% in 2016 after a high of 17.2% at the height of the Great Recession in 2010.

Scott Liberman, owner and CEO of Pennsylvania-based Valley Forge Flag Co., is one of those business owners who is happy with the decision to locate in Williamsburg County. The company, which employs about 100 workers at its Kingstree facility, cuts and sews American flags for retail sale. “The county has always been fantastic in helping us expand and grow,” Liberman said. “Their approach is, ‘How can we help each other?’ They assisted us in setting up


A CSX train heads through one of Williamsburg County’s industrial parks along U.S. Highway 52 toward the Port of Charleston. Tenants in the park include DSM, a large Dutch nutraceuticals firm; Palmetto Synthetics, a specialty thermoplastic fibers firm; and Sykes, a customer service provider. (Photo/Provided)


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COUNTY SPOTLIGHT: WILLIAMSBURG Guests check out some of the fare at the Kings Tree Trials horse race. (Photo/Michaele Duke — The News)

an after-school work program with the local high school, and that has helped us a lot with hiring temporary workers for seasonal increases.” Santee Electric Cooperative supplies power to many companies in Williamsburg County. The utility’s president and CEO, Rob Ardis, said the relationships among the county, business tenants and the companies providing utility services is one that fosters growth and encourages collaboration. “We are doing all we can to encourage growth and development in the county,” he said. “The county council, members of the economic development board and everyone else involved work together to maximize that growth.” Palmetto Synthetics, a manufacturer

Young horse-racing fans take in the action on a sunny day at the Kings Tree Trials. (Photo/Michaele Duke — The News)

of fabrics used in automotive and military applications, was the first tenant in the Williamsburg Cooperative Commerce Centre just north of Kingstree. Company CEO Henry Poston said the county was in a sort of chicken-or-egg scenario back in 1998. “They needed a tenant to initiate their financing, but there wasn’t much there in the way of infrastructure,” he said. “But the county said they’d put in temporary water and sewer facilities and a road if we’d agree to locate there. They immediately did everything they said they would when we agreed to move there. They have been more than accommodating with all of our needs as we’ve grown.” Williamsburg County School District governs the public schools in the county and

includes three high schools, one junior high school and eight primary and elementary schools. Williamsburg Technical College serves the county as a two-year institution offering associate degrees and technical training, and is the site of a state pilot program called Williamsburg Promise. The state-funded program offers tuition to any Williamsburg County high school graduate from the past five years. Pasley said this is the first rollout of the program in the state, and is designed to remove financial barriers to higher education and to help give students skills that are required for jobs in advanced manufacturing such as the automotive, chemicals, plastics and aviation industries. One of Williamsburg’s assets not available to many rural counties is a 24-hour,

Target Industries for Williamsburg County

Advanced Manufacturing

Agribusiness/Food Processing


Automotive/Aviation suppliers Top 3 available parks/sites:

Current developments:

• • • •

• • • •


Special Advertising Section

Williamsburg Cooperative Commerce Centre Hemingway Commerce Centre Tri Area industrial Park A 50,000-square-foot spec building will be built in 2018


200+ new jobs announced in last 18 months A new Williamsburg Regional Hospital will begin construction in 2018 Existing industries continue to expand and produce new product lines Hemingway High School is home to 2017 State Champion basketball team


A DSM worker at the company’s facility near Kingstree. (Photo/Provided)

The DSM plant at the Williamsburg Cooperative Commerce Centre is one of Williamsburg County’s largest employers with 250 workers manufacturing vitamins and other nutritional supplements for animal care, human health and personal care. (Photo/Provided)


seven-day-a-week hospital. Williamsburg Regional Hospital operates out of a temporary facility after its permanent building suffered irreparable water damage from the October 2015 floods. It has been a challenging two years since for hospital CEO Sharon Poston and her staff, but she said support from the community and county have helped tremendously. “This has been a unique experience, to say the least,” Poston said. “But the county and our community have been there for us all along the way. The support has been invaluable.” Poston said construction of a new, permanent hospital is planned to begin in 2018. The county has reached back to its historical roots as a hub for training thoroughbred horses with the Kings Tree Trials, held annually at the McCutchen Training Center near Kingstree in early November. The event is popular with horse-racing fans across the state, said Leslee Spivey of the Williamsburg Hometown Chamber of Commerce. “We get folks from all over the state for this,” she said. “And that’s really one of the best things about this; it brings people to our community. It provides a lot of exposure for the area in a very nice setting.” Williamsburg Regional Airport is the county’s only commercial air facility and can accommodate private planes and corporate jets. International airports nearby include Myrtle Beach and Charleston, both about a 1½-hour drive.

Special Advertising Section



Photo/S.C. Department of Agriculture

In search of fresh food SCDA’s Certified SC Grown program marks 10 years of connecting consumers to local produce By Susan Levi Wallach, Contributing Writer Often, the grass is greener right here at home — also, the beans, cucumbers, peas and parsley. That’s the message the Department of Agriculture is working to get across to South Carolina consumers with Certified SC Grown. In the 10 years that the program has been in place, it has built an impressive list. More than 190 agricultural and food producers have become certified members, allowing them to use the


Certified SC logo on the products they’ve registered with the program.


TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. Shoppers look for fresh produce at the Clemson Farm Fresh Market, one of many farmers markets across the state. (Photo/S.C. Department of Agriculture)

More than 170 operations that use or sell Certified SC Grown products have become associate members, including a number of schools (such as Ashley Ridge High School, Chabad Jewish Academy, Newberry County Schools and other school districts), farmers markets, government agencies (including the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and the Town of Lexington) and food-service providers. All have the right to display the program’s logo. “It is a brand,” says Martin Eubanks, assistant commissioner of the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Services Division. “It is designed to help consumers identify local products in the marketplace and then make an informed decision about purchasing those

products. That’s what we’re after—more sales, more recognition of what is local.” The Certified SC Program not only helps consumers find fresher, locally grown food, but also boosts business for the state’s farmers. And the consumer appreciates the tastier foods and also the satisfaction of supporting local farmers. “Local” is the new buzzword. “It used to be organic but now it’s about locally grown,” Eubanks explains. “We saw the opportunity to create a brand to help consumers understand where food comes from, identify that local South Carolina product. We reinforced the brand with a full-blown media campaign, shows, promotions, and other avenues to help consumers recognize the brand and get


Rooted in farming


The newest component of the state Department of Agriculture’s Certified SC Grown program plays on the South’s well-known respect for history and lineage. Called “Know Your Roots,” it is the theme of 2018 marketing efforts. As Martin Eubanks, assistant commissioner of agricultural services, puts it, “Agriculture is the root of South Carolina.” The Department of Agriculture is using this campaign to remind people that agriculture has been and remains a principal industry for the state. “Know Your Roots” will include a full media campaign, with television commercials and social media. “One new thing we’ve done is shot video clips of farmers around the state that will be on our website and will bring agriculture into the homes of people who view them,” Eubanks said. “They can see how much agriculture we use and how things have changed throughout our history.” Check out the farmers’ stories at http://certifiedscgrown.com/farmers

that click that this is local product.” Amy Fortes, co-owner of The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill, The Flipside Restaurant in Rock Hill and The Corner Grind in Pineville, NC — and one of four 2017 S.C. Chef Ambassadors — is definitely bullish on the program. “As we opened in Rock Hill two years ago, I started working more toward using South Carolina products in our restaurants,” she says. “I’m learning a lot more about what’s available locally. Me being inland, I’ve got to learn a lot about pig farms and great goat cheese in my area — different things that are readily available that I might not have found out about had I not been part of this program.” Her customers are enthusiastic. “They love that we try to use a lot of local sources,” Fortes says. “A lot of people follow us for that. Especially with local products, we run a lot of specials to get different items on menu.” As a chef ambassador, Fortes said she has been introduced to a number of new purveyors throughout the state. “We’ve put some of those items into our menu,” she says. “Some of the dishes I’ve come up with for these (chef ambassador) events I’ve put on the menu. For example, we did a special with a tomato hand pie that I did for an event in Atlanta. I used an empanada dough recipe I have, so it almost looks like an empanada. Traditionally, a tomato pie is a 9-inch round and is open. We made a hand pie instead using Thomas Family Farms goat cheese feta and tomatoes from Bush-N-Vine.” Fortes points out when she and her husband first opened their Fort Mill and Rock Hill locations, the majority of the restaurants in the surrounding areas tended to be a part of corporate chains. “We really wanted to be in a good community that didn’t have accessibility to a lot of local dishes. There are not a lot of farmers markets around here. If our clientele really like a product, we can order it for them, possibly get things for them. We wanted to bring a local-dish accessibility around here and more of a down-home feeling. Especially in tomato season. We’re getting great tomatoes right now — we have these big piles of heirloom tomatoes sitting on the counter, and if our customers ask, we’ll sell them a few.” Not everyone, however, has been won


A worker plants vines for Melon 1, a partnership that combines S.C. watermelon growing expertise with distribution and sales capabilities of a New York shipper. (Photo/S.C. Department of Agriculture)

An artist’s rendition shows where various commodities are grown across South Carolina. Also shown are the locations of the state farmers markets. (Illustration/ S.C. Department of Agriculture)


over by the program. Among the holdouts is F.H. Dicks IV, president of F.H. Dicks Co., a third-generation watermelon farm in Barnwell, and a partner in shipper Melon 1. “We don’t do Certified SC Grown,” he says. “We are a South Carolina grower, but because [as Melon 1] we also ship so much from other states, we don’t participate in that.” For Dicks, it comes down to the broader economies of business: It’s always watermelon season somewhere, whereas in South Carolina the season lasts only two to three months and a spate of uncooperative weather can put affect harvest and profitability. “I think the Certified SC Grown designation is great for someone who is only in the state but we’re not, so we’re never used the sticker and we’ve never advertised our stuff as such,” he says. “ . . . The problem for me is not that I don’t want people to know I’m in South Carolina—I do.” But when it comes to shipping a truckload of watermelons, “I don’t know if they all come from South Carolina,” Dicks says. “They might come from North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, depending on the week. It doesn’t work for me.” It does work for Josh Johnson. His Old Tyme Bean Co. in Cameron has been part of the Certified SC Grown program for four years. Without the program, he says, he probably wouldn’t even be in the bean business. Johnson sells about half of his butterbeans to a Charleston food hub called GrowFood Carolina, which gives small farmers a means to compete in the wholesale market. “They take my product and freeze it so they can sell it year-round,” Johnson says. “By having a South Carolina butterbean that can be used year-round, chefs in the Charleston area can attract more people to their restaurants. Without that certification, GrowFood Carolina probably would not have taken me on as a grower.” Johnson continues to grow corn, cotton, and peanuts but says he wants to diversify his farm with more local products “so that no one in some far-off land such as China can dictate what my product is worth. I have a good-quality product, and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people I wouldn’t have gotten to meet traditionally. It makes people happy to know where their food comes from.”


TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. Students can buy vegetables, fruits and other agricultural products at the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market on the University of South Carolina campus. (Photo/S.C. Department of Agriculture)

That sentiment gets a second from Bryan Tayara, owner of Rosewood Market in Columbia. He says membership in the program has helped Rosewood strengthen its relationship with its customers “because there is a vetting process. People can trust that the products we say are local are local.

Whenever we can have the support of an organization that is vetting their producers and retailers, consumers are more likely to trust that the product is coming from South Carolina. It’s harder than you would think to find local stuff.” Tayara also cites the boost that the Certi-

fied SC Grown branding gives members and the support that members get from the Department of Agriculture. “We get a lot of tools and handouts,” he says. The website the department maintains for the program — certifiedscgrown.com — “helps direct people who are looking for local stuff to the sources that carry it,” Tayara says. A page on the site tells what’s in season, and another page lists where to the produce. Another part of the Certified SC Grown program is Fresh on the Menu, which brings farm to table to life. Restaurants participating in the program agree to prepare menus that dedicate at least 25% of their ingredients to Certified SC Grown products that are in season. Launched in 2008, the Fresh on the Menu program was created to help increase the per capita income of rural South Carolinians through the generation of agricultural commerce. The Fresh on the Menu app is available for free download to mobile phones or tablets. It not only connects the user with restaurants in the program but also provides recipes featuring South Carolina’s seasonal produce.

Where does your food dollar go? OFF-FARM costs (marketing expenses

associated with processing, wholesaling, distributing, and retailing of food products) account for 84 cents of every retail dollar spent on food.


Retail Food Dollar



only 16 cents on average out of every retail dollar spent on food that is eaten at home and away from home. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents out of every retail dollar spent on food in America.







Source: 2013 American Farm Bureau Federation Graphic



NICHE Small farms chase success with specialty crops By Licia Jackson, Editor




aking a go of a small farm is a tricky task, but growing a specialty item to meet the demand of a defined market can help. In what has come to be known as niche farming, the farmer diversifies product offerings for a market that may be underserved, says Martin Eubanks, assistant commissioner for agricultural services at the S.C. Department of Agriculture. “A grower grows a new microgreen or squash blossoms for a restaurant,” Eubanks said. “It’s crops that aren’t the normal trend – specialty items.” Diversifying in this way has the potential to increase the farmer’s income, a welcome development for small farmers. “Just growing the same way we always have doesn’t always increase the bottom line,” Eubanks said. The assistance available from the Department of Agriculture is called the small farms program. Clemson University

Cooperative Extension offers the S.C. New and Beginning Farmer Program, with participation from the Department of Agriculture. Applications for the Clemson program will be taken next summer for the 2018-19 class. In niche farming, the grower may produce an in-demand, hard-to-find crop, or may take a traditional product and carry it through to a finished item. “The more you can vertically integrate your operation, the more of those dollars you get to keep,” Eubanks explains. For example, the farmer grows a particular variety of cotton, has it made into yarn and woven into shirts, which he sells. Niche farming is growing statewide, Eubanks said. It may be fruits and vegetables in one area, cotton in another, lavender or herbs in another. In fact, since 2002, South Carolina has seen tremendous growth in farms of less than 50 acres. The 2012 U.S. Census

listed 11,131 small farms, the highest growth category by farm size. Part of this growth is driven by the demand for local products. “Millennials want to know where their food comes from,” Eubanks says. During the past 10 years, farmers have also had help in reaching new markets from the SCDA’s Certified SC Grown program. The Department of Agriculture has operated its small farm program for more than 30 years. At first it focused on traditional row crops such as corn and soybeans, but now the focus is on higher-value items. Other groups, such as Carolina Farm Stewardship, help niche farmers become more successful, according to Eubanks. Another organization helping farmers starting out is Lowcountry Local First, which has an incubator offering a small amount of land to begin on. The following articles tell the stories of three niche farms in South Carolina.








Raising sunflowers, raising funds for charity


uppose you could make a substantial contribution to your community by growing sunflowers. There’s a lot more to the story, but that is basically what has happened for Sol Flowers, an enterprise of the Roberts family in Anderson. This year, they raised more than $18,000 to be distributed to area charities by the Foothills Community Foundation, all from sunflowers and an associated event. “It would appear that this is going to become a yearly thing,” said Danielle Roberts. Here’s how the project began: The Roberts family, whose livelihood comes from their general contracting business, had enjoyed growing sunflowers in their backyard garden. Their oldest daughter, Catherine, decided to sell some sunflowers and zinnias from their garden and a family friend’s field at the farmers market in Anderson. The flowers quickly sold out. When Catherine went off to college, the family still enjoyed growing the flowers. “We said, this could be something that could, on a larger scale, really do a lot of good,” Roberts said. And so, the family moved from sunflower gardening to sunflower farming. A friend, John Tucker, let them use six acres he owned in Anderson County. The farmer who works with Tucker, Billy Martin, planted the field for them. Danielle Roberts, her husband, Jeff, and their three children dove into the project. The field was prepared early, then fertilized in March, with herbicide applied in early April. The seeds — a production variety called Mycogen usually grown for sunflower oil — were planted in late April and early May. “Timing is everything,” Roberts said. Seed to bloom is about 60 days, with the first flowers at the end of June. In 2016, the first year of Sol Flowers, Roberts set up a Facebook page to let

By Licia Jackson, Editor people know when the flowers would be ready. The sunflowers were sold two weekends only at the farm. Visitors came out and could walk up and down the rows, with volunteers cutting and bundling the flowers. That year, a little more than $9,000 was raised and donated through the Foothills Community Foundation to Calvary Children’s Home and Safe Harbor. This past summer before the first harvest weekend, the family added a party with a band and barbecue at the field. They sold tickets, raising $4,500. All food and other costs were donated, so the money raised all went to charity.

The Roberts family, top photo, grows sunflowers to raise money for charity. Above, their sunflower field in Anderson County. (Field photo/Janet Barnes)

When the sunflowers were ready for picking in July, “we had thousands of people in that field,” Roberts said. Photographers came, artists set up their easels and painted and people came just to stroll through. Three TV news crews came, and visitors arrived from both Carolinas and Georgia. The youngest Roberts daughter, Caroline, is now majoring in agribusiness at Clemson, and she organized the 45 volunteers who helped with cutting the flowers. Sol Flowers T-shirts were also sold. Raising the sunflowers is hot, hard work, Roberts acknowledged, but the family loves the connection to the community it has given them. Sol Flowers puts the spotlight on the Anderson community and it raises awareness of farmers and farming. “It’s gratifying to see how willing everybody has been to step up and help,” Roberts said.








Couple’s farming branches out into products, classes, events By Licia Jackson, Editor


he first U-pick season at Southern Hills Lavender in Greer blossomed overnight into a Facebook phenomenon. “2016 was our first, a one-day event,” said Mary Bergstrom, who farms with her husband, Tim. “When we started out, we thought we would have about 200 people. I put it on Facebook and it went viral. By that day, we were expecting 2,000 and had prepared, adding vendors, three food trucks and a horse. We set up tents for shade. “We had about 8,000 people.” The success attracted Facebook’s attention and it became a case study for the social media site. While their first event grew quite suddenly, the Bergstroms’ farm was a long time in the making. Both are from South Carolina,

Southern Hills Lavender opens its fields to visitors for U-pick season. (Photo/Southern Hills Lavender)

but they were living in Maryland in 2010. They knew they wanted their own business and began exploring the possibilities. When they discovered an herb farm that specialized in lavender, that caught their at-

tention. Very methodically, they learned by going to conferences and volunteering on other farms. They planted their back yard in lavender. In 2011, they started the U.S. Lavender

With proper care, many varieties of lavender thrive in the Southeast. (Photo/Southern Hills Lavender)

They are sold at markets and fairs and at Foodie’s Farm Shop in Greer. Bundles of lavender from the harvest are dried and processed. A culinary bud from Southern Hills’ plants is processed and cleaned for sale. And the U-pick events continue. This past summer, rather than a single day, picking was held on Friday and Saturday over five to six weeks. People came from all over South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, Bergstrom said. The Bergstroms also propagate plants in greenhouses for sale to individuals. Their goal is to sell large lots to other lavender


Growers Association, now with more than 360 members. After searching for land, they moved to 15 acres in Greer in May 2014. “My husband still has a full-time job,” Bergstrom explained. “The idea was for me to keep a full-time job, but I was laid off, so fast-forward the farm.” Beginning with an acre planted in lavender, the Bergstroms planned the first U-pick event but quickly branched out in many directions. “We do educational classes and sell products,” Bergstrom said. “We do events. We allow photographers to book hours for bridal portraits.” They held a sold-out Feast in the Field in September, partnering with a brotherin-law who has a catering company. All the dishes contained lavender, and the foods were seasonally available and local. They included pork loin infused with lavender tea, a spinach salad with lavender vinaigrette and honey lavender butter. Southern Hills Lavender products include soaps, candles, essential oils, lotion, incense and clay aromatherapy charms.

farms. Once planted, lavender is a perennial, requiring harvest and pruning but not yearly replanting. In the long-range plan are more products, classes and events and perhaps a shop to sell their items and other artisans’ work made with lavender during the U-pick season. “We want to keep expanding,” Bergstrom said. “Our mission is to reconnect with agriculture. “We had this idea. We did a lot of homework and planning. The biggest thing I would say is that lavender can grow in the Southeast.”







All-natural shirts are made in SC By Marsha Hewitt, Contributing Writer


ocal farmer Atwood McIntosh wanted to find a good quality all-cotton polo shirt that was made in the USA. As a cotton farmer, he wanted to see the end product of his crop. Plus, he liked wearing cotton. How hard could it be to make cotton shirts? After asking questions, talking with textile mills, spinning and dyeing plants, clothing manufacturers and retailers, he got his answer: Nobody wanted to manufacture 100-percent cotton polo shirts. Most textile plants in the Carolinas had shut down decades ago. Manufacturers sent their products overseas to take advantage of inexpensive foreign labor. Since he couldn’t find a cotton shirt he’d be proud to wear, McIntosh decided to make his own. He had plenty of cotton on a 1,000-acre farm in Williamsburg County, plus a degree in business from Francis Marion University. After a year of intense research, he launched Homegrown Cotton shirts in July 2014. The shirts are made of 100% cotton straight from his field. McIntosh likes to tell people that the shirts are grown and sewn in the Carolinas. “From our farm to your home, your polo can be traced back to the field it was grown in.” The savvy young farmer has dedicated a 150-acre irrigated field to the specific fiber needed for the shirts. The cotton is ginned at a state-of-the-art gin in nearby Salters that is owned by the Tri County Cotton Growers, a farmers’ co-op. The lint goes to Thomasville, N.C., to be spun. The yarn is knitted in Jefferson, then sent back across the state line to Lincolnton, N.C., to be dyed. The shirts are cut, sewn and embroidered at Craig Industries in Lamar. You won’t find a storefront or a fancy shop at McIntosh Farms. In fact, you won’t find a shop at all. The shirts are stored in a

Atwood McIntosh turns his crop into 100% cotton polo shirts. The Williamsburg County farmer grows the cotton, sends it to processing, then sells the completed shirts to retail customers. (Photo/Provided)

warehouse and shipped as needed, both to customers who buy from the website and to retailers who need more product. While McIntosh has accomplished the task of producing all-cotton shirts, he’s quick to tell you he’s not a retailer. He’s a farmer. In fact, he’s proud to be an eighth-generation cotton farmer. He was named for his great-grandfather, the first Atwood McIntosh. The family began growing cotton in Clarendon County decades ago. “I started farming when I was about 6 years old, riding along with my dad. Now that he has stepped down, I manage the whole farm,” he said. The McIntoshes also grow peanuts and corn in Williamsburg County. For now, McIntosh farms in the daytime and devotes his evenings to his shirts. Sales are steady, but he would like for Homegrown Cotton to become a major brand in South Carolina.

The shirts are high quality, with dyes that are all natural and environmentally friendly. One of the shirts — called The Natural — has no dye or bleach at all; it’s the off-white color of raw cotton. At this time, only men’s shirts are being made. Since women buy more shirts than men, it would seem feasible to make women’s shirts, but manufacturing is complicated. Adding a different style, with many sizes and colors, is a huge step. “You can’t order a few dozen of this or that; you have to order hundreds of the same shirt,” McIntosh explained. “Right now I’m trying to get these shirts in more stores and make people aware that they can buy a good quality, all-natural product right here in South Carolina.”

TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. ANUGA is described as the largest general food and drink trade fair of its kind. (Photo/Thomas Klerx, Koelnmesse)


WORLDWIDE ENDEAVOR By Trip DuBard, Contributing Writer


T 32

o attract international interest in S.C. agricultural products, first the prospects need to know where South Carolina is. S.C. agriculture representatives contended with more than 100,000 other businessmen to advance the case for the state’s agribusiness last month in Cologne, France, at one of the world’s largest food and beverage trade shows. “We’re just trying to get people to know South Carolina, get them to know what we have to offer,” said Jack Shuler, director of agribusiness development at the S.C.

Department of Agriculture. Perched on a stool beside him at one of the 7,200 display booths sat Clint Leach, assistant state agriculture commissioner. ANUGA is the acronym for “Allgemeine Nahrungs und Genussmittel Ausstellung,” which translates as “General Food and Drink Trade Fair.” Promoters describe the show as the largest of its kind in the world. Spreading through 3 million square feet of space, this year’s five-day show expected 160,000 visitors from 192 countries to peruse displays representing 108 nations. South Carolina’s not generally a high-

profile state at the show, Shuler said, “but this time they know us.” Shuler and Leach lead the state agriculture department’s efforts to grow South Carolina’s $42 billion agribusiness sector, responsible for about one in 10 state jobs. Their success could affect the welfare of thousands of families in some of South Carolina’s most rural areas. It’s 1:40 p.m. Walking past dozens of booths laden with Belgian chocolates, French macaroons and Turkish breads, Shuler and Leach have 20 minutes before they pitch South Carolina agriculture to


ArborOne, major lenders to the agricultural sector. Soon after, he became president of the Palmetto Agribusiness Council, a group created in 1999 to lobby and advocate for agriculture by coordinating with industry representatives. The council felt that agribusiness growth could increase with focused effort on promoting S.C. agribusiness abroad. The legislature agreed, giving the Department of Agriculture funding to begin economic development efforts in July 2015.

Katsouris Brothers stand at the chilled and fresh food section of ANUGA 2017. (Photo/Thomas Klerx, Koelnmesse)


another foreign business. But despite the bounty around them, they can’t find a decent sandwich and are momentarily unsure which one of the five French pavilions among the 11 huge conference centers


they’re soon expected to visit. A French representative is unsure as well, and Shuler and Leach discuss their work as they wait for the meeting’s confirmation. Shuler retired in 2011 from Agfirst and

Shuler says they’re looking for: • Companies that will come to South Carolina and use the state’s agribusiness products as part of their manufacturing process • Companies that are willing to import South Carolina products into their home countries. Once a good match is found by the Agriculture Department for a company wanting to set up in the state, the state Department of Commerce works to close the deal. South Carolina’s agribusiness sector grew 23% to $41.7 billion in direct and

Harry Bromptons gives out samples at the drinks section of ANUGA 2017. (Photo/Thomas Klerx, Koelnmesse)

in coming to the U.S. within the next two to three years, Shuler said. “We make the contacts, so that they know who to call,” Shuler said. In particular, Shuler would like to attract a flour milling company to help support the Ruiz food production facility in Florence, which announced a $79 million, 705-job expansion in July. Such a mill could also help attract bakery and bread companies to the region, he believes. Also, he wants to attract more chicken processing plants, which he says can bring tens of millions of dollars into the state

through investments in feed, seed, warehousing, processing and distribution. Leach says companies ask about logistics, the cost of doing business, and the transport of their products into the U.S. and across the country. “Our infrastructure is very-well suited to help any type of company move product,” he tells them. ANUGA is one of many trade shows Leach has attended. He estimates he’s met with thousands of representatives during the past three years, promoting South Carolina. But it’s not a quick sell. Shuler says the projects companies are looking for generally take years to develop. He can’t point to a major project investment yet but says there are some in the pipeline, and he knows that the international profile of the state is rising. “I’m finding that this time, when you say ‘South Carolina,’ they know where we are on the map. So, we’re making an impression,” he says. Trip DuBard, director of SC Connect, works from Brussels to maintain and create relationships between South Carolina and Europe.


indirect benefits between 2006 and 2013, according to a 2015 report from Clemson University. That makes it the largest economic sector in the state. In Cologne, Shuler and Leach spent the day working to impress representatives from such groups as an Italian meat company, a French agriculture cooperative and a French seasoning and sauce company. They succeeded in at least one case. “Even if they are from the government, they were very pragmatic and very good salesmen,” said Nicolas Escamez, international business development manager for French agriculture cooperative Terrena. Shuler and Leach spent about 35 minutes huddling with Escamez and his colleague in a small booth area just off a crowded hallway. “We understand that they have great logistics and they are exactly in the middle between Miami, New York (and) Washington,” Escamez said. To him, that means “lots of consumers and high-value possibility.” S.C. officials go to trade shows and use third-party lead generation firms to identify potential companies that may be interested



TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. www.scbizmag.com



PORT OF CHARLESTON By Liz Segrist, Staff Writer


rom the 1960s to early 2000s, the S.C. Farm Bureau ran the state’s only grain export facility in North Charleston. Trucks dropped the product off at the site, and it was loaded into shipping containers headed for global markets. When the state shuttered the operation in 2003, the agricultural-export supply chain lacked the infrastructure needed to ready grain for overseas shipment. The export of all S.C.-produced soybeans through the Port of Charleston halted for about seven years. Paul McClintock, the port’s senior vice president of marketing and sales, said the port saw a decline overall with exports in the mid-2000s. Ocean carriers were arriving with loaded containers and leaving with many of those containers empty. “The port was really kind of a one-trick

pony,” McClintock said. “We were doing imports, but we weren’t doing many exports. We were losing out on exports. … So we started trying to target business for exports that would help our customers.” The renewed effort to increase exports gained ground in 2010. Demand for S.C.produced agriculture products has grown globally since then, driving up exports and requiring new facilities to handle the products. From 2011 to 2016, soybean exports increased by 500%, port data show. Exports of peanuts, grains, frozen meat, forest products and other agricultural crops have also significantly increased in recent years. Hugh Weathers, commissioner of the S.C. Department of Agriculture, said exports of S.C.-produced crops boost the

A truck driver delivers refrigerated cargo to a container ship at the Wando Welch Terminal. (Photo/S.C. State Ports Authority)

agricultural sector overall. McClintock echoed that, saying agricultural exports also buoy the port’s volumes and shipping companies’ bottom lines. Since 2011, the port’s exports overall increased 34%. “We’ve dramatically increased our agricultural exports, and really that’s because we spent a tremendous amount of time and effort creating an efficient supply chain,” McClintock said. “We’ve really targeted this particular segment of business.”

Lobbying for change A change to a state law that governs the weight of shipping containers that truck drivers can transport also helped encourage more farmers to export out of South Carolina.

TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. www.scbizmag.com

The Scoular Co.’s operation at the Wando Welch Terminal readies grain for shipment to global markets. (Photo/The Scoular Co.)


Industry officials successfully lobbied in 2010 to increase the allowable weight of containers going into trucks from 90,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds. The ability to add an extra 10,000 pounds of product into a container can determine which port an exporter will use, McClintock said. South Carolina had been losing out on exports to Georgia and North Carolina prior to this law, industry officials said. Weathers said the increased weight limit helped farmers move product faster. The stage was set to recruit companies to build facilities in South Carolina to handle

agricultural products headed for export, and to connect those companies with the state’s agricultural industry.

Investing in agriculture Agricultural products headed for export require their own supply chain and infrastructure designed specifically to handle each crop. Grains and soybeans are packed into containers in specialized facilities, and frozen meat is handled in buildings with large refrigeration and freeze-blast capabilities, for example. The port recruited companies in the

private sector to invest in building such facilities. Those efforts have proved successful in recent years. Several companies providing cold storage services have moved into the Lowcountry since 2014. Lineage Logistics, New Orleans Cold Storage and Agro Merchants Group invested millions to build their operations, expanding the region’s cold storage infrastructure from 50,000 square feet to more than 550,000 square feet overall. These operations freeze or refrigerate products — mostly poultry, beef and pork — in temperature-controlled warehouses

TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. www.scbizmag.com

ahead of export. Exports are the third largest market for the state’s 800 poultry farms, after retail and further processing, said Connie Smith, president of the S.C. Poultry Federation. Weathers said poultry is now the state’s largest crop, and exports “are helping to drive the growth in poultry.” In 2016, more than 19,000 containers of poultry went through the Port of Charleston to global markets. Poultry from S.C. farms accounted for 39% of all refrigerated cargo leaving the port last year. Those exports are valued at $206 million annually.



“The poultry industry from an economic development perspective is a sleeping giant,” Smith said. “Based on current plans of existing and new companies who want to invest in rural South Carolina, the economic impact would be $500 million to $750 million.” The rising demand to export S.C. agricultural products has attracted other companies to invest in facilities as well. JBS built a facility in the Lowcountry to handle rendered product, or leftover chicken parts blended for other uses, such as animal feed. The Scoular Co., a 125-year-old grain company based in Nebraska, opened a grain export facility at the port’s Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant in 2010 in response to the closure of the S.C. Farm Bureau grain operation. “About six years went by where South Carolina wasn’t exporting grain,” said John Gill, senior group manager of Scoular in Charleston. “We noticed it was something that was lacking in South Carolina — access to those export markets.” The Scoular operation now exports 25% of the soybeans grown in South Carolina to Asia, with the majority going to China. Truck drivers arrive at the facility daily to drop farmers’ shipments, and Scoular workers and machines load the soybeans into containers, readying them for overseas markets.

Growing needs Gill said South Carolina farmers can take advantage of their proximity to the port and more easily expand their customer base internationally, as compared to more inland states. For that to happen, agriculture and port officials alike said more facilities are needed to handle agricultural products. McClintock said one challenge to building near the port is the competition for increasingly expensive land in the Lowcountry. Weathers said additional investment is needed throughout the state for both the agriculture industry and exports to flourish. Farmers face many of the same challenges as other S.C. companies — such as dealing with inadequate infrastructure and the need for new talent amid an aging workforce. Many inadequate roads and weakened bridges around the state make it difficult for farmers to move their crops to customers. Some bridges are not strong enough to handle heavy loads, requiring a truck reroute. Weathers said improvements to roads, coupled with the construction of new facilities to handle S.C. products headed overseas, will help boost farmers’ bottom lines in the coming years.

2011 2016

Growth in commodities Measured in TEUs* 239,086 209,054

124,786 74,548





Forest Products


Basic agriculture products, like soybeans


Refrigerated cargo

*TEUs: A common industry measurement representing a 20-foot-equivalent container Source: PIERS data





Clean and safe Farmers face new regulations on produce safety By Carol Edwards, Contributing Writer



weet, juicy, fresh-picked strawberries, maybe a little whipped cream on the side, a sprinkling of E. coli on top – ew, nobody wants a bite of that. To help prevent such contamination, federal rules dealing with Americangrown produce begin going into effect in 2018. In 2011, then-President Barack Obama signed the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act. Quite a few changes have been made to the act since then, including the addition of the Produce Safety Rule in 2013, which will require many farmers who grow produce


Photo/S.C. Department of Agriculture

typically eaten raw – peaches, tomatoes and watermelon, for instance — to implement some new practices. “There’s a lot to it, but overall it just looks at different ways to protect produce,” said Kelly Johnson, who is managing the program for the S.C. Department of Agriculture. E. coli is just one of the possible contaminants the produce rules are trying to combat, though the bacteria also comes from sources other than produce. Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in 2016, there were 648 illnesses attributed to E. coli in the United States, with 105 hospitaliza-

tions and three deaths. The produce safety efforts target E. coli and other contaminants by regulating such concerns as: • the quality of the water used not only for irrigation but for washing workers’ hands • when and how raw manure can be used for fertilizer • how to deal with livestock and wild animals that come near produce • sanitation for equipment and storage facilities. The SCDA is tasked with helping the state’s farmers understand the new produce rules and making sure they’re in




TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. www.scbizmag.com


compliance. Johnson said the SCDA has been awarded $3.5 million in federal grants for development and implementation. She said the department is working with Clemson Cooperative Extension offices, the S.C. Farm Bureau and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association to spread information. So far, they’re focusing on educating farmers about the new rules, which in large part consists of letting them know the rules even exist. About 370 farms will fall under these rules in South Carolina, Johnson said. SCDA Produce Safety Outreach Coordinator Morgan Whelan said their office has called about 100 of those farmers, and up to 85 percent of them did not know about the program. “People are going to have a lot of questions. We still have a lot of questions as well,” Johnson said. Some of the FDA rules and timelines are still in flux. The list of allowable water testing methods hasn’t been finalized. While farms that report more than $500,000 of produce sales annually are expected to comply with the new rules by January 2018, Johnson said the SCDA isn’t planning to start inspections until 2019 because the (federal) government is behind on training inspectors. She said the SCDA plans to hire a regulatory supervisor and one inspector next year and will hire two more inspectors later. In the meantime, Johnson encourages farmers to call the SCDA to ask questions or to schedule a time for someone to come out to see what the farmer will need to do to meet the coming standards. She said they won’t take notes about these on-farm readiness reviews, just provide advice and information. “We’re here to help,” Johnson said. She said the SCDA wants to maintain its good relationship with farmers across the state and will enforce the rules fairly and consistently and “use some common sense.” While growers of sprouts have slightly different rules and less time to comply with all the regulations, produce farms with $250,000-$500,000 in annual sales have a compliance deadline of January 2019; growers with sales of $25,000-$250,000 have


until January 2020. Farms with sales of less than $25,000 annually are exempt. There also are other exemptions, and the form to apply for an exemption is available at the SCDA website, https://agriculture.sc.gov/. Johnson said that although each operation will have to spend $100 for one key worker to attend a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training class, there’s really no way to tell how much money it will take South Carolina growers as a whole to meet the new regulations, because each farm will have different changes to make. Some growers won’t require the extra time or money. McLeod Farms, which has been growing peaches in McBee since 1916, already has safety and sanitation practices in place, manager Spencer McLeod said. McLeod Farms also hires a company to do a third-party audit of its operations. “The difference is now it is a government requirement,” McLeod said.

Planned SCDA outreach Here are sessions scheduled to help farmers learn about new produce safety regulations.

For more information, call Kelly Johnson, SCDA produce safety manager, 803-753-7267; Morgan Whalen, SCDA produce safety outreach coordinator, 803-470-6286; or Trent Rushton, SCDA produce safety outreach specialist, 803-904-9648.


• Nov. 27-29, 2017: Southeast Vegetable & Fruit Expo, Myrtle Beach. Will include Grower Training course Nov. 27. • Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2017: S.C. Farm Bureau annual meeting, Myrtle Beach • Jan 11-14, 2018: Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference, Savannah. Will include Grower Training course Jan. 11. • Jan. 16-17, 2018: Grower Training course planned in Columbia. For details, call SCDA. • Jan. 17-18, 2018: SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo, Florence • Jan. 19-20, 2018: South Carolina Young Farmer and Agribusiness Association State Convention, Isle of Palms • Jan. 26-27, 2018: S.C. Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference, Greenville



KING BEAN Former produce market built during New Deal era now a community center of commerce


By Andy Owens, Editor, Charleston Regional Business Journal


r curing n sticks fo e d o o a w to co on bacco was ring tobac ecades, to d r ) o ss F . re 4 g 4 Workers st n 19 Co e County in . (Photo/Library of in Florenc rop c sh a c l a ion major reg

Cars, mule -drawn wa gons and produce to trucks wait the auctio to deliver n at the La the 1940s. ke City Be (Photo/Ly an Marke nches Lak t in e Historic al Society )




TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. Stan McKenzie, owner of McKenzie Farms and Nursery near Lake City, sells produce to visitors at the Lake City Farmers’ Market each week inside the Bean Market on Henry Street. (Photo/Andy Owens)


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tan McKenzie picked cucumbers on his family’s farm in the lower Pee Dee area each morning when he was 14 years old. In 1961, he had a daylicense, which allowed him to drive to the Lake City Bean Market on Henry Street to sell produce for his father. More than 50 years later, McKenzie selects a deep green cucumber, six to eight inches long with a symmetrical tapering on each side, from underneath his booth at the Lake City Farmers’ Market on the floor of the National Bean Market Museum. “Quality,” McKenzie said. “That would be considered a No. 1 cucumber back in the day. Long and straight and dark green.” The owner of McKenzie Farms and Nursery said buyers would line each side of the long building and bid on each crop brought to the market in a nonstop rhythm

of buying, selling and packing during auction season. The Bean Market was built for commerce under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Public Works Administration in 1936. “If you had 20 crates of cucumbers, you’d put one up there for a sample, and the buyers would walk along and bid on it, and then you’d deliver the 20 crates around to wherever they were packing that to ship to New York or Philly or whatever,” McKenzie said. As buyers placed bids, sellers made their way down the market hall and to an office where they collected their money and unloaded their wares. Waiting railcars received the produce, with ice poured directly on top of the crops to be shipped to Northern states. Refrigeration and longhaul trucking ended the need for the Bean

Market to operate, and the building fell mostly into disuse. Present-day manager Anne Marcengill said the Bean Market has always been a place where people come to buy agricultural products, and that authentic connection to an economy built on growing food draws a thread between Lake City’s past and present. For decades, Lake City served as one of the largest tobacco markets in the world. The warm, spicy scent of golden leaf tobacco and the lilting song of auctioneers filled the streets for more than 100 years. But tobacco was one product among many that farmers relied on across the state. In the 1930s through the end of the 1960s, tons of string beans and other produce traveled to Lake City to be auctioned off in the red brick building that weathered the ravages of the Great Depression.


Field hands take a bre ak for a drink of water from a bucket in Floren ce County in the 1940s . (Photo/Library of Co ngress)


Today, dirt floors and an auction platform have been replaced with a solid, concrete finish. Several of the large wooden beams that hold up the structure of the building have been fortified or replaced, but a lot of the original wood and brick remains intact and exposed to show the age of the building, Marcengill said. “To me the history of it, and then the beauty of the actual building is phenomenal. Some people will come because we’re still out there listed as a museum ... and I say, ‘Let me tell you about the building,’” Marcengill said. “I think that story is fascinating.” The building has had several owners and undergone several renovations, finally opening as a 10,000-square-foot venue in 2011 after a $3.5 million restoration through a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan. Near the midpoint between Florida and New York, the Lake City Municipal Auction Market became the largest truck auction for string beans in the 1940s, which is why the Bean Market name stuck even though many kinds of produce were sold at the location. “Those were just open doors, and they literally drove their cars and trucks through the building. There was a riser in the middle, and that’s where the auctioneers stood,” Marcengill said, standing on a platform overlooking the market floor. Her office is filled with photos, books and paintings. The building is owned by the Community Museum Society and receives money from rental fees, Florence County accom-


TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. Mary Brown sells homemade bread, pepper jelly and other items at the Lake City Farmers Market. She plans to open a storefront on Main Street this year. Top right, exposed rafters show the historic brick and wood from the old Bean Market building. Bottom, Chris Owens sells out of produce each week at the Farmers Market. (Photos/Andy Owens)

the Bean Market suffered from crumbling asphalt and potholes. The parking lots have since been replaced with greenspace and include a stage that hosts live community performances and uses underground geothermal wells to heat and cool the Bean Market building. “I think it kind of all started with this building,” Marcengill said. Restaurants, antique and coffee shops and public art exhibits line nearby East Main Street within walking distance. Lake City’s Bean Market area draws crowds during annual events such as Artfields and the S.C. Tobacco Festival, and the Lake City Farmers Market. Mary Brown uses the weekly farmers market to test new products for her family business. She and her husband started JBJ’s originally to make barbecue sauce, but branched into baking bread, making pepper jelly and other products. “All of this is homemade. t opened, tobacco firs t rke Ma an Be Everything we got here, In 1944, years after the parts of


modations taxes and foundation money. Today, the Bean Market serves as an agritourism and community event space in the lower part of Florence County. Agriculture continues to be part of the Bean Market Museum’s legacy and mission, but the venue serves as a community hub for Lake City’s recent revitalization built on history and art. Just a few years ago, the parking lots and streets surrounding


in all ong economic driver continued to be a str s) res ng Co of ry to/Libra South Carolina. (Pho

starting with the barbecue sauce, then we went from barbecue sauce to sourdough bread,” Brown said. Each week, the Bean Market hosts farmers, crafters and bakers selling local honey, watermelons, flowers, bread, barbecue sauce, cucumbers, kale, broccoli, turnips and beans. The Bean Market also hosts weddings, birthday parties, community events and proms, Marcengill said, and is available for daily rental for up to $1,800 depending on the time of year. “We want to attract people from everywhere, but we also want it to be for the community,” she said. “We’ve tried to stay community-minded, so we try to work with the local organizations to do things.” Brown said her family sells their wares at different events and at some IGA stores in addition to the farmers market on Henry Street, but has plans to open a storefront on Main Street in Lake City this year. When that happens, she said she’ll still come to the Bean Market to sell. “I think I will just to help the market stay open because it’s been so long, even before I knew about it,” Brown said. “And we don’t want it to go down, so I will take out on Wednesdays and come.”





Timber on private lands fuels growth for S.C. forestry industry By Travis Boland, Staff Writer


major expansion project for South Carolina’s forestry industry was born in the depths of the Great Recession. A 2008 report by the S.C. Forestry Commission used figures from 2006 that showed the forestry manufacturing industry was leading the state in employment (90,000 jobs) and total labor income ($4.1 billion). It also put the total economic impact of the industry at $17.6 billion. With that in mind, the Forestry Commission, with the help of other organizations, created the 20/15 Project.

“We wanted to try and keep moving forward,” said State Forester Gene Kodama. “Our goal was to increase our economic impact to $20 billion by 2015.” In the latest economic impact study, the forestry sector has increased its total economic impact by more than $3.6 billion over the last decade. Total annual output has increased to $21 billion as of 2016. “If the growth trend continues we’re looking at $24 billion in the near future,” Kodama said. “There’s a healthy supply and demand, and the South is the breadbasket of the world.”

Kodama said the Southern region of the United States produces more timber than any other country in the world. A key to that production, according to Cam Crawford, is the fact that a majority of the forests in South Carolina are on privately owned lands. Crawford is the president and CEO of the Forestry Association of South Carolina. “South Carolina is leading the way in the industry, and there’s positive movement thanks to a strong economy,” Crawford said. “The state features 13 million acres of forest, and 88% of that is privately owned. Forests




$17.6 billion

$21 billion

13 million


economic impact of S.C. forestry industry in 2006

economic impact of S.C. forestry industry in 2016

acres of forest in S.C.

percentage of S.C. forest lands that is privately owned

TRENDING: AGRICULTURE IN S.C. www.scbizmag.com

in Canada and the Northwest region of the U.S. are government owned, which means going through more red tape.” According to Crawford, 95% of timber used in manufacturing comes from privately owned land. Crawford also praised the Port of Charleston as a major factor in the industry’s continued rise. In a 2016 study, paper and paperboard, wood pulp and logs and lumber were listed in the top four exports through S.C. ports. Overall, the industry exported $1.5 billion in products through the Port of Charleston. Forestry includes a primary and secondary industry. The primary industry deals with the low-value commodity, and the secondary features value-added products such as furniture and log homes. Tim Adams, director of resource development at the Forestry Commission, said the current focus is growing the secondary market. This includes Roseburg Forest Products, which announced construction of a new engineered wood products plant in Chester. Operation startup is scheduled for 2019. Adams said strengthening the secondary market will give a boost to the primary industry. Roseburg, which began its business in Oregon, is an example of a trend Crawford sees changing in the industry. “Canadian and Northwest states realize the South is the place to do business,” Crawford said. “Those changes bring innovation to the new world and are making wood competitive.” Expansion can also be credited to sustainability of the product. Forests are producing more timber than is being harvested, giving the state plenty of resources. Adams said the current growth/drain ratio is 1.52, meaning the state has 52% more timber than is being harvested. “We think of the forest like a factory, and right now we have a wall of wood that companies are coming after,” Adams said. “That wall, or wave, will be sufficient until tree planting continues. The only negative is we have so much wood it’s making the price low.”





he Roaring Twenties recognizes the 40 fastest-growing companies in South Carolina: 20 small companies and 20 large companies. To qualify for Roaring Twenties consideration, companies had to be nominated by a third party or through self-nomination. Companies must have a physical presence in South Carolina and can be a for-profit entity or a nonprofit organization (except for government entities and charitable organizations, including 501(c)3 organizations. These are not eligible.) The nominated companies provided financial information to SC Biz News, which was sent to the accounting firm Cherry Bekaert for verification. Company size was determined by gross revenue: small categorized as $10 million and under; large, more than $10 million. Small companies must have had revenues of at least $500,000 per year for 2014, 2015 and 2016. A formula was used that awarded points based on both dollar and percentage increases in revenue generated from South Carolina operations from years 2015-2016. Both of these criteria were used to create a score, with percent increase used as a tie-breaker if needed. The companies were then ranked by score, with the highest score being the fastest-growing. All 40 companies were honored at an event in Columbia on Oct. 19. The companies and their profiles are presented in this issue of SC BIZ. We hope you enjoy reading more about them. Event Photography by Jeff Blake

S N O I T A L U T CONGRAN ! S R E N I W Thank you to all of our sponsors




Mary King of WIS-TV in Columbia presents small-company winners.



ROARING 20s Photos Grady Johnson, president and group publisher of SC Biz News, introduces winners.

Kitty Howell of Doctors Care




Total number of local employees: 33 Top local executive: J. Chad Frampton, president and CEO Product or service: General contractor Year founded locally: 1993 Company bio: Frampton Construction is a regional full-service construction firm with financial strength and industry knowledge born of years of experience employing proven procedures. In 1977, the company started as Limehouse and Frampton, and in 1993, Charles T. Frampton founded Frampton & Associates. In 2015, under the leadership of Chad Frampton, the company became Frampton Construction, offering planning and design support, preconstruction, construction and sustainability.


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How do you build your team? What are the top attributes you seek when hiring employees? We are very passionate about recruitment and building our team. Most importantly our team members must align with our company vision, “Together and collaboratively defining ourselves by a new measurement scale in construction by challenging procedures, staying innovative, and inspiring continuous improvement, all while practicing proven management strategies.”

C L L . o C n o i t pany n Construc

Framptaostest Growing Large Com 2017 F

Charleston • www.frampton.construction


ro 2 AM Conservation G


Charleston • www.amconservationgroup.com Total number of local employees: 80 Top local executive: John Bailes, president Product or service: Energy and water conservation Year founded locally: 2005 Company bio: AM Conservation Group is a leading provider of energy and water conservation products and services that are used by utilities, municipalities and contractors to help their customers save energy, water and money. How has your personal approach to leadership changed as your company has grown? As the company gets larger, we continue to recognize that all the decisions can’t be made at the top of the organization. We constantly look for ways to empower employees at all levels to make decisions.







3 Berenyi Inc. Charleston • www.Berenyi.com Total number of local employees: 16 Top local executive: Tony Berenyi Product or service: Architectural, engineering and construction services Year founded locally: 1990 Company bio: Berenyi Inc. has expanded continuously since 1989 to become a leading structural, architectural and construction firm. Relying upon a diverse staff of talented engineers and architects, Berenyi continues to produce successful projects through exceptional teamwork, thoughtful design and responsible project management. What important advice would you give to business owners or managers? Know your ideal client: What do they think they want, what do they need, and what keeps them up at night. Know yourself and what makes you different and unique from what others are doing.

4 JEAR Logistics LLC Mount Pleasant • www.jearlogistics.com Total number of local employees: 78 Top local executive: Mark Neumeyer, president Product or service: Provide third-party transportation of products throughout the continental United States and Canada Year founded locally: 2007 Company bio: Mark Neumeyer founded JEAR Logistics LLC in December 2007. In 2013, Mark partnered with his brother-in-law, Patrick O’Connor, with over 13 years of success and experience within the industry. JEAR provides full and less-than-truckload services (refrigerated, dry and flatbed) throughout the U.S. and Canada. How do you build your team? We hire entry-level and develop our people from the ground up. Having each team member start at the most basic level ensures a consistent training experience.

Greenville • www.NextGenSCI.com Total number of local employees: One, plus two subcontractors Top local executive: Dee Kivett Product or service: Supply chain and quality management system services Year founded locally: 2010 Company bio: NextGen Supply Chain Integrators provides a full range of services for total supply chain management excellence. Our capabilities span the range of traditional quality consulting in LEAN, Six Sigma and ISO 9001, TS/IATF 16949, AS9100, ISO 13485, ISO 17025. What is the main driver of this year’s revenue growth? A strong local economy in the Upstate leading to favorable financial conditions of the clients needing our services. For the supply chain division, we have a unique pricing model that makes us very competitive.

on 6 J. Davis Constructi

7 Blackbaud Inc. Charleston • www.blackbaud.com Total number of local employees: 1,300 Top local executive: Michael “Mike” Gianoni, president and CEO Product or service: Cloud software and services Year founded locally: 1989 Company bio: Blackbaud is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community, Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through software, services, expertise and data intelligence. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? We sit at the intersection point of technology and philanthropy. We’re positioned for greater growth, which will increase our research and development revenue stream and create more innovations to help our customers.


Westminster • www.jdavisinc.com Total number of local employees: 75 Top local executive: Joel Davis, president Product or service: General contractor Year founded locally: 1997 Company bio: J. Davis Construction has grown from a small construction firm to one of the premier general contractors in Upstate South Carolina, employing more than 70 highly skilled construction professionals. The company partners with clients in industrial, commercial, education, amenities and government/municipal sectors. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? The issue of workforce availability is of great concern. It is why we have partnered with the National Center for Construction Education and Research to set up our training program. We now have access to many classes.




hain Inte NextGen Supply C





Scout Boats Inc.

Summerville • www.scoutboats.com Total number of local employees: 360 Top local executive: Steve Potts, CEO Product or service: Boat manufacturer Year founded locally: 1989 Company bio: Scout builds luxury sportfishing center console, dual console and inshore/bay boat models ranging from 17 to 53 feet. Since its founding, the company’s goal has been to manufacture the best-built boats in its sportfishing niches. Each hull is an original, as the in-house research and design team works closely with engineering to take concepts from blueprint to production more efficiently. What are the top attributes you seek when hiring employees? We seek employees who look to our industry as a career opportunity and are career-minded.


gies Inc.

Human Technolo

Greenville • www.htijobs.com Total number of local employees: 135 Top local executive: Herbert W. Dew III, CEO Product or service: Staffing Year founded locally: 1999 Company bio: Human Technologies Inc. is a multifaceted human resource advisory firm providing professional recruiting, industrial staffing, manufacturing solutions and human resource consulting. Founded in 1999, HTI Employment Solutions is one of the Southeast’s most innovative and versatile human resource firms. How has your personal approach to leadership changed as your company has grown? “Back when we were smaller, I could personally lead and develop all HTI employees,” Dew says. As HTI grew, he began to focus on leaders since he couldn’t develop the entire staff.



The Office People

North Charleston • theofficepeople.com Total number of local employees: 50 Top local executive: Sean Mummert, CEO Product or service: Office interiors, digital signage, document imaging systems, print services, audio visual equipment, web development. Year founded locally: 1993 Company bio: The Office People is an award-winning, minorityowned and operated business. Our growth and success have enabled us to serve customers in 18 states. We help businesses, school districts, hospitals, medical facilities, banks, law firms, churches and others save on office solution services. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? We stay on top of innovative solutions that save both time and money. As technology improves, The Office People will be at the forefront of innovation.


12 eGroup


Mount Pleasant • www.eGroup-us.com Total number of local employees: 32 Top local executive: Mike Carter Product or service: IT solutions, service and support Year founded locally: 1999 Company bio: eGroup provides innovative IT solutions to businesses across the nation. We deliver speed and certainty to data centers and cloud initiatives. We align clients’ technology initiatives with our solutions, services and support to make a business more productive, efficient and competitive. How has your personal approach to leadership changed as your company has grown? Hands off. From the old George Patton quote: Tell people what needs to be done and let them surprise you with how they achieved it.



Green Cloud Tech

Greenville • www.gogreencloud.com Total number of local employees: 43 Top local executive: Shay Houser, CEO Product or service: IT infrastructure solutions Year founded locally: 2011 Company bio: Green Cloud Technologies provides custom Ciscopowered infrastructure, backup and recovery solutions, and virtual desktops and support to our partner network of value-added resellers, managed service providers and select consulting organizations. Employee-owned, Green Cloud was recently named the 73rd fastestgrowing private company in the nation on Inc. 5000’s 2016 list. What advice would you give to business owners or managers? Be wary of spreadsheets. This might sound counterintuitive, but the power and simplicity of spreadsheets can create a distorted view.



Duncan • www.sielift.com Total number of local employees: 63 Top local executive: Chris Wood, branch manager Product or service: Materials handling dealership for Toyota Forklifts, also sell and support multiple lines of products Year founded locally: 1987 Company bio: As one of the Southeast’s largest material handling equipment dealers, Southeast Industrial Equipment provides a comprehensive range of new forklifts, lift trucks and used industrial equipment for sale, lease or rent. We offer everything from financing options to service, repair, training and management programs. What is the main driver of this year’s revenue growth? The main driver for this year’s growth results from taking care of our customers, our associates and our vendors.




ipment Inc. u q E l ia tr s u d In t s a Southe

tions Inc.

Solu Quality Business

Travelers Rest • qualitybsolutions.net Total number of local employees: 38 full-time Top local executive: Pamela Evette, president and CEO Product or service: Payroll, HR and benefits administration Year founded locally: 2000 Company bio: Quality Business Solutions Inc. provides a wide and comprehensive range of benefits and services that can be tailored to meet your company’s individual needs. A woman-owned business, QBS is a cost-effective outsource solution for noncore business functions. Their integrated PEO/ASO services include payroll administration, unemployment management, insurance, benefit administration, human resources, workers’ compensation and tax reporting. What are the top attributes you seek when hiring employees? We look for high integrity, a positive attitude and team players.


Supply LLC n o ti c u tr s n o C th u New So

Greenville • www.newsouthsupply.com Total number of local employees: 43 Top local executive: Jim Sobeck, CEO Product or service: Building products distribution Year founded locally: 1981 Company bio: We distribute quality building products across the Carolinas and Georgia, as well as many other states and abroad. We specialize in concrete, masonry and waterproofing products and we also fabricate rebar at seven of our nine locations. We are the only company in our industry offering an on-time delivery guarantee or you get a credit of 10%, good on your next purchase. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? We see Amazon as a major competitor, so we are concentrating on heavy, bulky commodities that must be delivered to jobsites on trucks with forklifts.


nL 16 Mavin Constructio

Greenville • www.mavinconstruction.com Total number of local employees: 25 Top local executives: Todd Malo and DJ Doherty Product or service: Commercial general contractor and facility maintenance Year founded locally: 2012 Company bio: Mavin Construction was started in 2012 by DJ Doherty and Todd Malo. Mavin performs construction and maintenance in the health care, education, commercial, municipal, industrial, retail and ecclesiastical industries. What advice would you give to business owners or managers? Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and build the best support in the areas where you are weak. Then trust your team and focus on improving your strengths.

Simpsonville • www.sunlandlogisticssolutions.com Total number of local employees: 200 Top local executive: Arch Thomason, CEO Product or service: Third-party logistics provider of warehousing and value-added services Year founded locally: 1982 Company bio: Sunland Logistics Solutions is a third-party logistics provider and is excelling as it implements a strategic growth plan to become a national brand. Originally founded in Greenville as Sunland Distribution, the company has progressed along with the needs of its manufacturing customers as the dynamic global economy has required more sophisticated supply chains. What is the main driver of this year’s revenue growth? Onboarding new customers operations, organic growth with existing customers.



c 18 Creative Builders In

Greenville • www.creativebuilders.net Total number of local employees: 56 Top local executive: William H. McCauley III, president Product or service: General contractors Year founded locally: 1971 Company bio: Creative Builders was founded in 1971 by William H. “Billy” McCauley II as a general contractor in Greenville. Today, Creative Builders is licensed in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee. As general contractors, we are extremely proud of our highly diversified portfolio and quality reputation. What is the main driver of this year’s revenue growth? The multifamily housing market, particularly in the Southeastern U.S., has been especially strong. We are fortunate to be in Greenville, which was named the fourth-fastest growing city in the U.S. in a recent census.

cy 20 The Brandon Agen

Greenville • www.mau.com Total number of local employees: 283 Top local executive: Randall W. Hatcher, president Product or service: Staffing and recruiting Year founded locally: 1987 Company bio: MAU Workforce Solutions is an independent, familyowned company with more than 40 years providing staffing, recruiting and outsourcing solutions that connect qualified candidates to companies that need them. We are a partner to clients, enhancing their workforce through understanding their organization, culture and industry. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? There is a growing workforce shortage in many skilled manufacturing jobs. In the Upstate, this is especially true of logistics workers. MAU built Skill School, a center to provide training for new hire material handlers.

Myrtle Beach • www.thebrandonagency.com Total number of local employees: 57 Top local executive: Scott Brandon, CEO Product or service: Full-service, integrated marketing agency Year founded locally: 1959 Company bio: The Brandon Agency is one of only 29 certified and accredited brand strategist agencies in the United States. The most creatively awarded agency in the Carolinas is a digitally minded, fully integrated national firm and consists of smart, resultsobsessed experts who consult, advise and deliver revolutionary business-building ideas. What advice would you give to business owners or managers? Be your own best media company – in today’s digital world, you don’t need to rely on paid or earned media alone to be successful.


lu 19 MAU Workforce So



s Solutions

Sunland Logistic



Total number of local employees: 47 Top local executive: George Friedl, partner Product or service: Management consulting services Year founded locally: 2006 Company bio: For more than 11 years, Atlas has brought experience from government and private industry to create an agile organization that delivers exceptional consultants and outstanding solutions. Our services focus on federal organization business management functions – from program and financial management to scheduling and logistics. Atlas brings a depth of capability and resources normally found in much larger companies while avoiding the costs associated with significant overhead.


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How has your personal approach to leadership changed as your company has grown? Ensuring great leaders are in place to make decisions and assume responsibility for outcomes because, as we approach 100 employees in our organization, being personally involved in every aspect of the business is impossible.

C L L g n i t l u s n Co e v i t u c e x E Atlas st Growing Small Company 2017 Faste

North Charleston • www.AtlasExecutive.com


Camden • CanteyCanFixIt.com Total number of local employees: 73 Top local executive: William Cantey Product or service: Foundation and crawl space repair Year founded locally: 2011 Company bio: Cantey Foundation Specialists is a foundation and crawl space repair company providing residential and commercial services throughout South Carolina and the Augusta, Ga., area. Cantey uses the highest quality materials, trains employees to deliver the best customer experience, and offers a permanent solution. How has your personal approach to leadership changed as your company has grown? William Cantey says, “I lead by example . . . from self-improvement books to training nationwide, financial workshops and health care benefits, I invest in (our employees’) future.”

rm 3 Shelly Leeke Law fi North Charleston • www.leekelaw.com Total number of local employees: 51 Top local executive: Shelly Leeke Product or service: Personal injury law firm Year founded locally: 2007 Company bio: Shelly Leeke Law Firm has successfully represented people injured in accidents for 10 years and handles cases throughout South Carolina – particularly in the Lowcountry. The firm currently employs 19 attorneys and is still growing. The staff works hard to provide guidance to victims of motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, on-the-job injuries and more. What important advice would you give to business owners and managers? Lead by example and don’t expect others to do what you won’t or haven’t. Be passionate about your product or service.



n Cantey Foundatio

4 SnapCap


Charleston • snapcap.com Total number of local employees: 19 Top local executive: Hunter Stunzi Product or service: Financial services Year founded locally: 2012 Company bio: SnapCap is leading a revolution in small business finance by reducing the complexities found in the traditional lending process. Committed to investing in small business, SnapCap offers a better way to borrow by focusing on performance-based financing. What is the main driver of this year’s revenue growth? Revenue continues to grow by SnapCap forming new partnerships and strengthening existing partnerships along with investment in our technology, marketing platforms and sales team. SnapCap was recently acquired by LendingTree, a large, online lending service platform.



5 The Centrics Group Mount Pleasant • www.TheCentricsGroup.com Total number of local employees: 5 Top local executive: Kevin Raxter, managing partner Product or service: Corporate recruiting and staffing services Year founded locally: 2014 Company bio: The Centrics Group is an all-inclusive staffing agency committed to connecting top employers and top candidates. We use modern and innovative recruiting methods to quickly connect with active and passive job seekers – getting your new hire in place – or you in your next position – faster than you thought possible. What is the main driver of this year’s revenue growth? The Centrics Group has expanded its physical presence and service offerings. The firm was founded as an IT staffing firm, but now places candidates in accounting/finance, human resources and customer service.


m 6 Alder Energy Syste

Charleston • www.alder-energy.com Total number of local employees: 24 Top local executive: Donald Zimmerman, president Product or service: Solar energy project development and installation Year founded locally: 2008 Company bio: Alder Energy Systems provides turnkey solar energy solutions throughout South Carolina. We specialize in the design, installation and integration of residential, commercial and utility applications, striving to offer the best systems and service. What is the main driver of this year’s revenue growth? Since an increasing number of South Carolina residents have “gone solar,” the public’s understanding of solar energy’s benefits and trust in its technology continue to grow. Our residential solar installations remain the sturdy backbone of our revenue.





Mount Pleasant • www.sourceortho.com Total number of local employees: 6 Top local executive: Elizabeth Gush Product or service: Online store providing orthopedic bracing and physical therapy equipment Year founded locally: 2012 Company bio: Source Ortho supplies the growing need for medical supplies and equipment in the U.S. Founder Elizabeth Gush’s vision is simple: Provide great products with cordial and intelligent customer service, most user-friendly website and best possible prices. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? Online shopping and comparing prices will only grow. Major retailers will try to chip away at sites like ours. Our goal is to make sure our customers know the service they receive from our staff is worth much more.

8 CNT Foundations North Charleston • www.yourfoundationexperts.com Total number of local employees: 25 Top local executive: Travis Bedson, CEO Product or service: Foundation repairs, new construction foundations and helical piers Year founded locally: 2012 Company bio: Travis Bedson founded C&T Maintenance when he was 15, cutting grass in high school. This entrepreneurial idea grew from a small lawn mowing and painting company into a small general contracting company. It gradually evolved to include commercial contracting and foundation repair and became CNT Foundations. How do you build your team? It starts with our culture. Every member can select new team members. Rigorous training and mentorship, and an environment of encouragement, helps bring out their best.


7 Source Ortho





hitecture rc A d n a g n ri e e in CEMS Eng

Summerville • www.cemsengineering.com Total number of local employees: 56 Top local executive: Stephen Mahaffey, PE, president Product or service: Architecture and engineering services Year founded locally: 1989 Company bio: CEMS is a multidiscipline architecture and engineering firm offering architecture, structural, mechanical, electrical, fire protection, civil engineering, landscape architecture, planning and commissioning services throughout the country. We assist our clients in making decisions that affect the way people use buildings and interact with their surrounding environment. How do you build your team? Building a team starts with knowing your existing team’s skills, strengths and weaknesses. We promote the strengths, train for the weaknesses, and hire the skills we don’t have.


G 10 Knowledge Capital

Charleston • www.knowledgecapitalgroup.com Total number of local employees: 10 Top local executive: Anthony Powell Product or service: Management consulting Year founded locally: 2007 Company bio: Knowledge Capital Group is a boutique business strategy and organizational transformation consulting firm. We help clients convert issues into opportunities, inefficient processes into best practices, and marginal outcomes into sustainable results. Our style is collaborative, direct and results-oriented; we are accustomed to complex situations and believe in fast-track actions. What important advice would you give to business owners and managers? Stay true to your vision; don’t get too hung up on business plans; and top-line revenue growth cures most ills.


11 Call Experts


Charleston • callexperts.com Total number of local employees: 200 Top local executive: Abby Leibowitz Pearson Product or service: Outsourced customer service and call center Year founded locally: 1982 Company bio: Call Experts is a family-owned and operated call center focused on providing extensive telecommunications and office-based services to professionals in numerous industry categories. From just one small office in Charleston, the company has grown to three offices along the East Coast with more than 200 employees If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would it be? Planning for the growth more in advance and trusting it would come instead of having to catch up while actively growing.

13 Koss Creative

Mount Pleasant • www.q4launch.com Total number of local employees: 35 Top local executive: Matt Bare, founder Product or service: Digital marketing agency serving the hospitality industry Year founded locally: 2008 Company bio: Q4Launch is a trusted partner for independent businesses in the lodging industry. Our marketing process focuses on converting online visitors to guests at our customers’ property. We continue to mine data to be sure we are producing the best results. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? Technology is advancing at a record pace. We see more finesse in marketing automation, more customer service being delivered by bots and more targeting and automation in general.

Columbia • kosscreative.com Total number of local employees: 48 Top local executive: Rusty Koss Product or service: Apparel manufacturing Year founded locally: 1992 Company bio: Koss Creative Brands has been printing custom shirts since 1992 and has been selling our own gifted apparel brands since 2001. Formerly known as Eat More Tees and Straight Up Southern, Koss Creative is the home of Palmetto Shirt Co. (2001), Itsa Girl Thing (2010), Fripp and Folly (2012), Lily Grace (2014) and Straight Up Southern (2016). What is the main driver of this year’s revenue growth? Over the past year our brands have been picked up by Dillard’s and Bass Pro Shops. The sales volume from these has been a main driver.

C 14 GEL Geophysics LL

LL 15 The Boulevard Co.

Charleston • www.gelgeophysics.com Total number of local employees: 9 Top local executive: Scott Carney, director Product or service: Underground utility mapping and geophysical services Year founded locally: 2001 Company bio: GEL Geophysics has been providing subsurface utility engineering and geophysical services to clients throughout the U.S. since 2001. We have extensive experience providing a variety of subsurface utility designating, locating and mapping services for municipal, state and private entities. What changes do you see ahead? Our clients’ desire and need for more advanced products and solutions are forcing how services are applied. We are at the forefront of new technological implementation.

Mount Pleasant • theblvdcompany.com Total number of local employees: Seven employees and 160 independent contractors Top local executives: John Liberatos and Rebecca Linenger Product or service: Real estate sales Year founded locally: 2012 Company bio: Founders Rebecca Linenger and John Liberatos realized the potential for agents to thrive when given the freedom to choose what best fits their business model. The Boulevard Co. was created for agents who run their own businesses. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? Real estate services is an industry at the forefront of unbundling, and The Boulevard Co. is already ahead of the curve by creating an agent-centric company with all the tools the agent of the future will need.


12 Q4Launch






Estate Matt O’Neill Real

Mount Pleasant • MattONeillRealEstate.com Total number of local employees: 30 Top local executive: Matt O’Neill Product or service: Residential real estate Year founded locally: 2012 Company bio: The Wall Street Journal ranks Matt O’Neill Real Estate as the No. 1 high-end real estate team in South Carolina. With more than $135 million in annual sales, Matt O’Neill’s marketing system is proven to sell a home for up to 18% more money. How has your personal approach to leadership changed as your company has grown? Matt O’Neill says, “My favorite part of the experience of leading this company is the growth I have had as a person. The only way to effectively lead a team is to focus on constant and never-ending improvement of your leadership skills.”




Charleston • www.PainChas.com Total number of local employees: 70 Top local executive: Dr. Edward Tavel Product or service: Health care Year founded locally: 2009 Company bio: Pain Specialists of Charleston is a South Carolinabased health care company with affiliate practices and service lines including neurology, diagnostic imaging, clinical trials, CLIA/COLA labs and more. Our mission is to provide high-quality, cost-effective health care to South Carolina. What changes do you see ahead in your industry? Health care will become more patient-directed and rely less on networks or affiliations. We’re already seeing patients “shop” for health care, and we want to make sure that high-quality health care is readily available.



f Pain Specialists o


Ch Blue Haven Pools

Charleston / www.BlueHaven.com, Bluehavensc.com Total number of local employees: 18 Product or service: Custom swimming pool construction and maintenance Year founded locally: 2005 Company bio: We consistently come through for our clients with pools of all shapes and sizes. We have the national backing to come through on extravagant, custom and high-dollar pool builds. In addition, our knowledgeable Charleston team will meet with you at your home to construct the perfect custom pool. If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would it be? We would have started the maintenance division a lot sooner. Having a diverse business is key to help plan for any economic downturn.


Todd Davidson of Nexsen Pruet

Toby Stansell of Cherry Bekaert


Tyre Moore of NBSC





rleston LLC

ha Davis Supply of C

North Charleston • www.davis-supply.com Total number of local employees: 5 Top local executive: Davis Weed Product or service: Supplier of residential and commercial foundation material Year founded locally: 2012 Company bio: We have a combined 47 years of experience in the masonry/concrete supply industry. Davis Supply continues to build its business on unparalleled customer service. How do you build your team, and what attributes do you seek when hiring employees? We hire one employee at a time, find great talent and give them an atmosphere to succeed. We are always looking for a self-starter who has the mindset of putting the customer first.

ics 20 Circuit Board Med Greenville • www.CircuitBoardMedics.com Total number of local employees: 30 Top local executive: Ed Edwards Product or service: Control board repair Year founded locally: 2010 Company bio: Circuit Board Medics remanufactures appliance control boards, industrial electronics, automotive modules and many others. Recycling these modules creates a superior product at a reduced cost while also protecting the environment. What advice would you give to business owners or managers? First, be an individual contributor to your team. Your team depends on you to understand their challenges and help overcome the obstacles that impact their success. Also, connect people to the purpose. We don’t just repair circuit boards, we solve people’s problems.


Ports, Logistics & Distribution

Economic Development

Staff Report

Upstate an option for Amazon HQ2, researcher says


Employees work at Amazon’s 1.25-million-squarefoot fulfillment center in West Columbia. (Photo/ Provided)

headquarters. Hickman wasn’t specific about where in the Upstate that square footage was available, only to say “sites from throughout the 10-county Upstate are proposed for real estate consideration.” “I would think finding that amount of land would be easier to find here than it would be in Atlanta, Washington or even Boston,” Baier said. “You are going to have to displace something, and that would be easier to do here than in those other areas.” To be eligible, Amazon required all bidders to have 1 million or more people in their area. Hickman said the regional approach is a way to make the Upstate fulfills the requirements Amazon is seeking. “On paper, our region can sometimes be overlooked because it contains two metropolitan statistical areas: the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin MSA, home to 824,112, and the Spartanburg MSA, home to 313,268,” Hickman said. “But by having a community that is so supportive of economic development and willing to pull together, our team has the resources to be proactive and present the Upstate as an exceptional location to live, work and play.” Baier said it was important to look at

Amazon’s requirements as something scalable over time rather than an immediate need. He said the regional approach was the only way any location in the Upstate could be considered, especially given Amazon’s proposed needs of 8 million square feet and 50,000 employees. “If they choose here, they would look at it as a place where people will move and have a highly educated workforce,” Baier said. “That workforce is here, but not to the mass. This area is growing, and putting Amazon here would certainly expedite that. “I think they have to be looking at this organically. If Amazon has a vision of what something will be 15, 20 or 25 years down the road, Greenville moves up in the ranks.” Hickman said the process of working with partners within the Upstate SC Alliance was “a great exercise,” whether or not the Upstate wins the project that’s expected to pump more than $5 billion in capital expenditures over the five to 10 years following the announcement. “This truly highlights our abilities to work as a unified region rather than 10 individual counties,” Hickman said. “This will only make us stronger, improving our process and creating a template for recruiting future headquarters projects.” The Charleston area decided not to go after the Amazon project, according to the head of a local economic development agency. David Ginn, president and CEO of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, said the Lowcountry did not fit Amazon’s needs.


recent report from the Brookings Institution ranked the top 20 contenders in the bid for Amazon.com Inc.’s next headquarters. While the Upstate did not make the list, a Clemson University professor said not to count out the region. Scott Baier, professor and department chairman of the John E. Walker department of economics at Clemson University, said the Upstate does meet the requirements Amazon is looking for in its next headquarters. “We do have the proximity of all the transportation that they are looking for, and we have the human capital,” Baier said. “This is a growing area, and the price of land is still pretty cheap.” While the focus of the Brookings report was on Atlanta, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., Baier said the Upstate has similar attributes such as the proximity of universities, which could serve as recruiting ground for the 50,000 employees Amazon said it plans to hire for its second headquarters. “Geographically, we work and we look good given our position,” Baier said. “Looking at potential growth, Greenville-Spartanburg could be a good place.” Spearheaded by the Upstate SC Alliance, the region submitted a proposal to Amazon. Jacob Hickman, director of business recruitment with the alliance, said the region’s bid highlighted the Upstate’s proximity to Atlanta and Charlotte by selling the region as “The Center of Charlanta.” Amazon’s request for proposal included 8 million square feet of space for its second






By Liz Segrist, Staff Writer

787-10 Dreamliner production, testing make progress


roduction on the 787-10 Dreamliner is making progress at Boeing South Carolina, adding more assembly, paint and flight testing work at the North Charleston campus. The 787-10 Dreamliner is the third derivative of the Dreamliner family — and the largest, at 18 feet longer than the 787-9. The difference in length was evident during a media tour aboard the plane recently. From the entrance near the cockpit, the midbody stretched on, and the back of the plane was not visible from the front. The twin-aisle jet sat mostly empty on a runway outside Boeing, awaiting a future customer to determine seat configurations. Some seating and test equipment were inside the plane for ongoing flight testing. Along with bringing the extra assembly and paint work, 787-10 production also builds on the North Charleston campus’s flight test program, said Michelle Bernson, director of delivery center, flight line and paint operations for Boeing S.C. Previously, North Charleston workers would handle installation of planes’ customized interiors — adding seats, overhead bins and crew units to each airline’s specifications. Boeing S.C. workers now also install flight test wiring and equipment in North Charleston, work that was previously done on 787s only in Washington. Now, when flight tests are complete, Boeing S.C. crews will remove the testing equipment and refurbish the jets for customers, Bernson said. The North Charleston facilities have produced three 787-10 airplanes thus far, with a fourth now making its way to the flight line. The initial three airplanes will eventually go to customers, but for now, Boeing will use them for flight tests and performance checks. The airplanes will undergo months of flight tests in the Lowcountry and at Boeing’s test center in Seattle ahead of customer deliveries in 2018. Several flight tests are already occurring each week in the Lowcountry.

The third 787-10 produced in North Charleston, top photo, will be fully outfitted for an airline customer after testing ends. Shown above are its temporary seats. (Photos/Liz Segrist)

Boeing expects to deliver its first 787-10 to a customer, Singapore Airlines, in the first half of 2018. Boeing has 177 orders for the dash-10 from at least 11 customers worldwide.

Common design The 787-10 has about 95% design-build commonality with the 787-9, except for the dash-10’s longer fuselage. Boeing officials said the similarities helped ease the integration of the 787-10 into the build and final assembly processes, particularly compared with the initial launches of the 787-8 and 787-9, which had numerous production challenges. David Carbon, Boeing S.C.’s vice president of 787 operations, said the 787-10 build has been the smoothest production transition yet for the S.C. site. “This has been as good as it gets, honestly,” Carbon said. “The fact that it’s common

(with the 787-9) makes a huge difference, and that fact that we’ve got it on the same flight line really helps.” Final assembly on 787-10s began late last year, and the inaugural rollout was in February, with President Donald Trump in attendance. The first flight was in April. Carbon said the 6-year-old Boeing S.C. site now focuses on completing 787-10 flight tests ahead of the plane’s official launch and preparing for the next production rate increase. The 787 facilities in Everett and North Charleston will produce 14 Dreamliners per month by 2019, up from the current rate of 12, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said recently. Now that Dreamliner production is evenly split between the locations, each final assembly facility should roll out seven planes per month when the rate increase occurs.


Staff Report


iti Tire celebrated its first U.S. tire factory’s opening on Oct. 4. The 1.7-million-square-foot plant at Richburg in Chester County is expected to create 1,700 jobs. Singapore-based Giti Tire will invest $560 million in Chester County over the next 10 years. The plant will produce tires for Walmart as part of that company’s commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023. Gov. Henry McMaster, Singapore Ambassador to the U.S. Ashok Kumar Mirpuri and Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., were on hand to celebrate the opening of the new plant. The South Carolina plant joins the company’s factories in China and Indonesia, allowing Giti to produce products to meet the needs of different markets. In addition, the company has high-tech R&D centers in

Giti Tire recently opened its first U.S. production facility in Chester County. (Photo/Provided)

Germany, the U.S., China and Indonesia. Production at the S.C. facility for the remainder of 2017 is estimated to focus on several hundred-thousand units of Dextero branded tires for Walmart, according to the Giti website. In 2018, capacity will reach several million tires, with more passenger and light truck sizes being added. Last summer, it was announced that two Giti-brand tire sizes will come as original equipment on the 2019 Volkswagen Passat. The company announced that its “Made

in America” tires will be on Passats assembled at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. “Our investment in this facility and its workforce demonstrates our firm commitment to North American customers,” said Enki Tan, chairman of Giti Tire. “Chester County’s extensive infrastructure network, proximity to a major metropolitan area, and commitment to a highly skilled workforce will support the company’s needs and growth for many years to come.” Giti, the world’s 10th-largest tire manufacturer, broke ground in February 2015 for the company’s S.C. tire plant, which will include manufacturing and distribution operations. The plant is at the Carolinas I-77 Megasite, between S.C. Highway 9 and Old Richburg Road, near the town of Richburg. Giti Tire Group has roots in the tire business going back to 1951.


Giti Tire opens first U.S. factory



1,000 WORDS


A performer shows her expertise with the hoops in ‘Catch Me,’ a show by Flip FabriQue recently at Harbison Theatre in Irmo, near Columbia. The group of friends who graduted from Quebec City Circus School formed their own touring contemporary circus troupe. (Photo/Flip FabriQue)


Profile for SC Biz News

2017 SCBIZ - Winter  

SCBIZ is the quarterly magazine serving senior level decision-makers across the entire state of South Carolina. In addition to the print pub...

2017 SCBIZ - Winter  

SCBIZ is the quarterly magazine serving senior level decision-makers across the entire state of South Carolina. In addition to the print pub...

Profile for scbiz

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