BY BRISTOW MARCHANT (803) 774-1272
Lasers, machinery and paint could add up to a multi-million-dollar expansion and some new job opportunities at a local company.
EnerSys has announced a $4 million investment at its Sumter plant, an addition that will include two new buildings at its manufacturing facility in Live Oak Industrial Park and two dozen new staff positions to go along with all the new equipment.
"It will probably be 23 (positions) over the next year," said Russell Dixon, the Sumter Metals Division plant manager.
The metal company plans to increase production with the addition of a third laser cutter used to slice metal to make battery boxes. EnerSys creates about 10,000 battery boxes a year at its Sumter plant, supplying power to everything from forklifts to trains.
With the expansion, the plant will also add a new paint line and other equipment such as a larger washer and oven to handle the materials.
That the expanded production is being placed in the Sumter plant is a credit to how productive it's already been.
"We looked around the United States thinking about moving that production somewhere but decided Sumter was the best place for it," Dixon said.
The Sumter location is close to EnerSys' steel supplier in Charleston, and the area has a strong manufacturing workforce for the company to draw on even after the opening of the Continental Tire the Americas plant, the manager said.
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," Dixon said.
Sumter Metals will have to add two new buildings to its site to accommodate the growth. One will house a new oven, while the other will be a new employee cafeteria and restroom facility because the cafeteria space in EnerSys' current building will be taken over by the increased inventory.
Local economic development leaders welcomed the announcement.
"We congratulate Sumter Metals and EnerSys on their decision to reinvest in the Sumter operations," said Jay Schwedler, president and CEO of the Sumter Development Board. "These jobs will be filled by our citizens, and the capital invested in new machinery and equipment will allow the operations to continue to be an industry sector leader."
Production should increase at the facility soon, with crews already clearing trees to make way for the new out buildings.
Republished with permission from Sumter's daily newspaper, The Item. For more, please visit www.theitem.com.