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Haier breaks ground on $72 million expansion

Posted: August 20, 2015 6:40 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Gary Phillips/C-I

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley (third from right) joins other dignitaries and Haier officials at Haier America’s $72 million expansion announcement to ceremoniously “break ground” Thursday afternoon. Other VIPs included (from left) State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk, State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, Haier America President of Research and Development Joe Sexton, Haier America CEO and President Adrian Micu, Haier America COO Kevin Dexter and Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns.

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Haier America, with help from Gov. Nikki Haley, officially broke ground on the $72 million expansion to the company’s existing $40 million Camden manufacturing facility Thursday afternoon. The project will increase the square footage of the plant from the current 365,000 to 550,000 and is expected to add 410 new full-time jobs during the next five years, growing the plant’s production by approximately 50 percent..

Haier America President of Research and Development Joe Sexton welcomed the dignitaries, audience and especially Haier employees to the event.

“For all the members of the local community, whether you’re from Camden, Kershaw County or the Midlands area, we thank for being with us today,” Sexton said. “I’ve saved the best for last. For the Haier America employees … thank you for your hard work and dedication. Together we’ve endured many challenges through the years. I’m honored to work with you and I feel very blessed to have this day with you.”

Haier America CEO and President Adrian Micu made the announcement of the expansion official.

“I am very pleased to officially at this time, I know this has come out before, but to announce the expansion of our operation here and our manufacturing footprint in America. What you have read is true. We will be investing $72 million in the next few years. We will be creating 410 new jobs,” Micu said, drawing a standing ovation. “This is just the beginning. There are many reasons we made this decision. Our company has recognized the key to success is being local. The people in blue here who have been with us for 15 years and have worked hard and really made us proud, enhancing this capability, leveraging this capability, growing it, is a great reason for us to be here.”

S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said the state is becoming steadily more attractive to international companies.

“Foreign direct investment continues to be a critical component of our economic development success. With more than 100,000 South Carolinian’s employed by international companies, it’s clear that the reputation we’ve earned for our workforce and business-friendly environment has made its way around the world,” Hitt said. “Today, we celebrate Haier’s decision to expand its already robust South Carolina operations and look forward to continuing this extraordinary partnership for many years to come.”

Haley said Haier’s choice to expand the Camden facility is a feather in the cap for the entire state.

“It’s a great day in South Carolina. It’s a great day in Kershaw County. What we’re seeing across the country now is a lot of companies are saying, ‘if ever there was a time to move, now’s the time to do it.’ You look at the European markets, you look at the Asian markets and you look at the states, the economies are all different in every state so they are looking at their business plans, saying ‘should we move or should we stay?’” Haley said. “Haier went through that decision, ‘should we move or should we stay and expand?’ They didn’t have to stay here. So what made them stay here? They have a very clear vision … they want (their products) to be quality and consistent. They very much care about their customer and they very much care about their name brand and their reputation.”

Haley said her administration also cares about quality and wants that caring to show in the industries the state attracts.

“We only want companies that care about their reputation because their reputation is South Carolina’s reputation. We have always been fans of Haier because quality matters to them and customer service matters to them,” Haley said, adding the employees at the Camden facility are responsible for the expansion.“You are the absolute reason they stayed and expanded and I want to personally thank you. The reason 410 more people are going to get jobs is because of you. It’s because of the work you did.”

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen said business success starts at the local level.

“The key to economic success starts at home and what makes this so special is that we know if we are to be successful in Kershaw County, in Camden and in South Carolina, we have to take care of our own and Haier, we claim you as our own. We claim you proudly,” Sheheen said. “I remember 15 years ago when you came to Kershaw County. I remember about 10 years ago out here dedicating the street to Haier, because we believed you would be a part of our community for a very long time. I’m extremely proud to come back yet once again to stand with you as you announce this incredible expansion and this incredible project.”

State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk said Thursday’s event was the result of a collaborative effort between Haier, several levels of government and many individuals, including Haier employees.

“This good news would not be possible if it were not for the high-quality work by the employees, who I am so glad to see here today and the quality of the workforce in Kershaw County, who will benefit from the jobs and opportunities that Haier is creating with this new investment,” Funderburk said. “Thank you to all the people here in blue, for making Kershaw County and the state of South Carolina proud. Since day one, Haier has been a terrific community partner, making a positive difference in the lives of the citizens of Kershaw County and surrounding areas.”

Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns, who ran on a platform of economic development, said Haier’s decision reflects well on the entire county.

“You bring good things to our county. You bring jobs to our county and we are proud we build here in Kershaw County your fine products,” Burns said. “We will prove to you in Haier the wisdom of your decision to locate here and expand here. This is absolutely the right place.”

Haier America COO Kevin Dexter had the last word and said Haier’s presence and expansion is a joining of the local and the international.

“When you think about the great state of South Carolina and you think about Kershaw County and all the way down to the city of Camden and then, just as importantly, the folks in blue sitting out here how we’re all coming together locally and connecting with a global power, we’re going to really make some great things happen here,” Dexter said. 

Dignitaries then donned hard hats and took up shovels for the ceremonial groundbreaking near a corner of the existing factory. Haier originally broke ground on the Steeplechase Industrial Park plant in April 1999 and began operations in March 2000, marking the company’s first entry into North America.

Construction of the expansion is anticipated to be completed in the second quarter of 2018 with hiring for the 410 new positions expected to begin in the summer of 2016. Those interested in joining the Haier America team should visit www.haieramerica.com/careers. For more information on Haier Group, visit www.haier.com.

 

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