65 new jobs coming to Summerton
by Laura Stone | December 14, 2018 12:30 pm
Last Updated: December 13, 2018 at 10:51 pm
In a news release on Monday, Bicycle Corporation of America (BCA) announced expansion plans for its Clarendon County operations. This $5 million investment will bring around 65 new jobs, expanding its workforce by around 50%.
“It’s been exciting to watch the explosive growth that Bicycle Corporation of America has enjoyed over the last several years. I congratulate this innovative company on all their success, and I look forward to seeing the difference these 65 jobs make in Clarendon County,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.
Kent International, Inc., a family-owned bicycle importer and manufacturer based out of Parsippany, NJ, created BCA to augment its import sales. BCA broke ground in Manning in 2013 and opened its doors in 2014, producing more than 850,000 bicycles since that time.
“We are so happy to be in Clarendon County and so proud that we are the largest manufacturer of bicycles in the United States. We love doing business here, and it is amazing how much support we get from both the local and state government, who understand the true value of job creation,” said Kent International, Inc., Chairman and CEO Arnold Kamler.
To expand, BCA will purchase the 140,000-square-foot building Summerton, which originally housed Federal Mogul and more recently has been home to Pro Brass. According to Executive Director of Clarendon County Economic Development George Kosinski, Pro Brass originally expected a much faster and larger expansion of business. However, due to a series of unforeseen events, the growth was much slower and smaller, and Pro Brass seeks to see the building used to its full capacity.
However, Pro Brass is not leaving Clarendon County. They are arranging a leasing agreement with Kent’s BCA to lease 30,000 square feet of the building to continue their current operations.
The sale should close in early January, although BCA has already had access to the building to begin taking estimates for the upfit process which must ensue once they take full possession. Kamler asserts the first order of business will be to immediately upgrade the fire suppression system throughout the facility, followed by roof repairs and a new HVAC system. He states the bidding will be open to both local contractors and those from other areas and will be an ongoing process as they upgrade the facility in stages.
Currently, the Manning BCA facility is Kent’s only US manufacturing facility, and they’re looking forward to expanding that operation, bringing more jobs back into the US. According to Kosinski, once they are up and running, they will employ over 200 people, making it one of the largest, if not the largest, manufacturing employers in the county.
“Congratulations to our friends at Bicycle Corporation of America and our partner Clarendon County. Since bringing assembly operations from China to its Manning facility five years ago, BCA has prospered from the potential of the growing market demand for products produced on American soil. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the company as it continues to roll out new products and enhance its operations,” said Central S.C. Alliance Chairman Mike Brenan.
“The people of South Carolina have built an impressive track record manufacturing top-quality products of all types. The decision by Bicycle Corporation of America to expand operations in Clarendon County is a testament to our workforce, and I know they’ll continue to achieve great things with these two new product lines,” said Governor Henry McMaster, who may visit the plant early next year.
The facility will be dedicated to two new product lines, an e-bike, which will have a motorized pedal assist with a lithium battery, and an adult tricycle. This tricycle will be created specifically for special needs adults, who need additional stability to ride, and will be manufactured for a not-for-profit business.
Kamler states the company purchased the Univega brand name recently, creating Univega USA, and they are considering which of the two Clarendon County facilities will begin production on this line. Either way, he asserts, the Summerton facility will warehouse the product, along with other items to be delivered through their .com business. Kamler states the company is receiving 10,000 .com requests per month during this year’s holiday season, and within five years, they predict that could be increased ten-fold.
Kent and BCA hope to have the doors open for business before the end of the second quarter, which has Summerton Mayor Mac Bagnal excited.
On the heels of the new Love’s Travel Stop and the new IGA both coming to Summerton, Bagnal feels the new BCA plant is another massive step forward for his town. Not only is he looking at the increased job opportunities for Summerton residents, as well as others in Clarendon County, he is considering the increased sales in the area as workers purchase lunches, gas and other goods in Summerton.
With all of the growth happening in Summerton, Bagnal states the town is already looking at other suitable land to develop as industrial areas, and they are continuing to work with Kosinski to stimulate further growth opportunities. He feels the close proximity to Columbia, Charleston and Florence, as well as the I-95 corridor which runs through the county will increase the draw to Clarendon for prospective manufacturers.
“I just feel it’s a great for the folks of BCA to invest in our community,” said Bagnal. “Obviously they feel we have folks that can continue building their bicycles and doing a good job with that. That they have chosen to invest in the Summerton end of the county shows they have confidence in our community.”
Bagnal deeply appreciates the efforts Kosinski has put forth in Clarendon County and more recently in Summerton. He feels Kosinski is the linchpin in the county’s and Summerton’s future development.
“He’s a mastermind with this stuff,” said Bagnal. “He’s a big part of what’s going on down here.”
Both the Clarendon County Council and the Clarendon County Development Board are excited to see the expansion as well.
“We would like to thank Bicycle Corporation of America for their continued confidence in our probusiness environment and skilled workforce. The effects of this significant investment will be felt by all. I would especially like to thank all of the Clarendon County Development Board staff and the volunteer board members who work to promote doing business in our county,” said Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart.
“We take great pride in our business retention and expansion program. Thank you to Bicycle Corporation of America for your confidence and trust in Clarendon County. We look forward to many years of mutual success,” said Clarendon County Development Board Chairman John Tindal.
Hiring for the new positions is slated to begin in the second quarter of 2019, and interested applicants should visit the company’s careers page online for more information.