By Stan Welch
Governor Nikki Haley led a parade of local, state and federal officials in welcoming Anderson County’s latest corporate cousin Monday morning. McLaughlin Body Company, which is a parts supplier for the Caterpillar manufacturing facility being built in Georgia, will renovate and occupy an existing building in the industrial park at 5121 Old Pearman Dairy Rd. The capital investment will total $22 million and will create 250 jobs over the next five years.
Governor Haley was joined by the county delegation, staffers representing the area’s Congressman and Senators, and the entire County Council, except for District Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd, who left between a special called meeting of the Council and the Governor’s arrival. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.)
Also on hand was McLaughlin president John Mann and other members of the management team. Both Haley and Mann stressed the impact that the local quality of life, as well as the availability of a trained work force, played in the company’s decision to relocate from Moline Illinois, where they were founded one hundred and eleven years ago.
The company builds operator stations and complex metal components for Caterpillar. The relocation was undertaken to increase McLaughlin’s ability to service its customers in the Southeast.
Mann made it clear that the existence of a specialized welding facility on campus at TriCounty Tech played a major role in their decision. “The industrial technology center was a key piece to the puzzle. We are confident that the trained and specialized work force we require will be available immediately and in the foreseeable future,” said Mann. Full production is slated for early next year, and hiring will begin as early as this summer.
He added that the efforts of officials at all levels to make the company feel welcome had made the decision easier. Throughout the course of the event, family and teamwork were frequent themes. “It became apparent that this was simply a natural match between a wonderful community and a world class metal manufacturer and the right work force.”
Governor Haley was a little more specific. “South Carolina gets business. We get it that regulation chokes growth. We get it that profit margin and cash flow are the things that let businesses grow. We get it that unions have no business in South Carolina, and we assure you that you will not have to deal with them in this state,” said Haley to a beaming Mann.