Could South Carolina be the Place? Part II

Times Square New York 2019/20

Welcome to 2020, the beginning of a new year and the start of the third decade of the 2000’s! I originally wrote an article with the same title in 2016.

Although this was originally geared toward supersonic aircraft manufacturing, as we begin a new year and consider the future of advanced manufacturing, where does South Carolina position? Where should we be? And what does South Carolina have to offer? Is our region the place to be to start new business or develop and grow our existing businesses?

No doubt that several marque companies have chosen South Carolina to be home for some of their larger manufacturing facilities. In the 1990’s, BMW picked Greenville/Spartanburg for a North American Plant. Although it started small, the Spartanburg plant is among the largest in the BMW family producing in excess of 400,000 cars annually.

SC Commerce Statistic

South Carolina is known as a leader in tire manufacturing. Michelin calls the upstate home for its North American headquarters. Companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have invested in aerospace manufacturing facilities.

In fact, the Boeing Charleston plant is the only plant outside of Washington state that delivers finished airplanes. With all of this, is there still room for growth? Should others consider making South Carolina their business home? The following is the message I wrote in 2016, and it still applies today.

Consider South Carolina. South Carolina is a business-friendly state with a long and proud history in manufacturing. Our state and local governments are welcoming to all newcomers. South Carolinians believe in free enterprise. We are pro-business. BMW, Michelin, and Boeing all have a large presence in the state.

With these large, high tech manufacturers, you will find that a healthy supply chain is already in place. To support these great companies, you will also find a strong technical presence that will support your production and development teams.

Boeing employees meet President Trump in Charleston

Our people are some of the hardest workers in the country. Devotion to family values and loyalty to the companies that care for them, our work force is willing to go the extra mile to achieve greater success. South Carolinians have a strong work ethic and desire to produce.

Our people want to win. We enjoy our college football and pour energy into support of our local teams. It’s driven by the desire for respect and to be the best.

This same energy and enthusiasm continue Monday through Friday in our businesses. Our people want to be the best. If you move to South Carolina, your production factory will quickly become your benchmark facility. Because of our strong work ethic, our people don’t need unions to support them.

Tillman Hall Clemson University

We have a strong post secondary education system. Clemson University and the University of South Carolina have two of the finest business and engineering schools in the south.

The South Carolina technical college system is second to none in providing training specifically tailored to support the needs of industry. Vocational expertise and training are designed to support industry.

It is incredible how much influence industry has in the development of curriculum.  Apprenticeship Carolina, a partnership between industry and the technical college system provides opportunities to develop and train your specific workforce.

Consider the level of engineering support available. South Carolina is home to some of the biggest names in engineering. Consider companies like Fluor, Day and Zimmerman, and Wood Group. These are all large engineering companies that have a significant stake in South Carolina.

There are also numerous smaller engineering companies that specialize in a wide range of technical services from IT to manufacturing support and product development services. I think many companies would be surprised to find the level of talent already available, ready and able to provide engineering expertise specifically addressing most manufacturing concerns.

Small Business

Small business and entrepreneurship are strong in South Carolina. But why should this be important to an Original Equipment Manufacturer? It’s been said that small business is the life blood of the US economy.

Small businesses have long been considered the engine to economic growth (Forbes Magazine 2012). Significant research leading to breakthrough technologies are often developed through small businesses.

Often small businesses have the flexibility to develop technologies and innovations much faster than larger companies. The local universities in partnership with the local chamber of commerce work with emerging startups to assist these technology leaders in the development of viable companies. Some of these companies may be the birthplace of the next big idea that will be the game changer needed to take your innovations to the next level.

“The Holy City” Charleston, SC

We also know that life is bigger than the work week. South Carolina is a great place to live. Once people visit South Carolina, they don’t want to leave. Your employees and their families will enjoy all South Carolina has to offer.

They will find that the climate, outdoor amenities, southern hospitality, and the proximity to major attractions make time away from the office enjoyable. The mountains and the beach … all within a short drive.

So, why not South Carolina? We are on the dawn of a new decade and the sun in South Carolina is rising. We invite any manufacturer, product developer, or innovation company to come check us out. I’m convinced that you will be glad you did.




About the Author:  Paul V. Kumler, P.E. is president of KTM Solutions, an engineering company that services the aerospace and large-scale manufacturing industries. In addition to aero structures engineering services, KTM Solutions designs and builds tooling supporting a broad clientele and various industries. The company is headquartered in Greer, South Carolina with remote offices in Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Kumler serves in several volunteer roles including the SC Aerospace Advisory Board. Mr. Kumler, a professional engineer, is licensed in Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas and Washington. He is married to Ginger A. Kumler and has two grown children and two grandchildren.


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