TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. -- Honda of South Carolina announced Thursday that it is making a $45 million investment with a 115,000-square-foot-expansion that will bring 250 new jobs.
Growing to meet demand for Honda’s side-by-side vehicles produced exclusively in its South Carolina plant required a focus on creating a more flexible and efficient production facility, said Gary Mabrey, president of Honda of South Carolina Mfg. Inc.
“The step-by-step growth of o ur operations in South Carolina is really a testament to our outstanding associates and the great products they create for our customers every day,” he said. Company officials said that prior to Thursday’s announcement, Honda had invested $93 million and added 150 new jobs in South Carolina over the past five years related to side-by-side production alone. Honda of South Carolina is the exclusive global producer of Honda Pioneer side-by-sides, including the 500, 700 and 1000 series models. The expansion focuses on the paint, weld, final assembly and material service areas as the company looked to improve manufacturing efficiency, parts flow and logistics.
“Our associates are very proud of the ATV and SxS products we make at Honda of South Carolina. This investment and plant expansion reaffirms our commitment to our customers, the state of South Carolina, and our local communities,” Mabrey said in the announcement.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. hailed it as “outstanding news” for Florence County and South Carolina.
“ We applaud Honda of South Carolina for their continued product line and workforce growth -- both boldly underline that Florence County is at the forefront of economic growth," Leatherman said. Congratulations Honda of South Carolina.”
Florence County Council Chairman Roger Poston said the investment “is a testament to Florence County’s economic vitality and strong workforce.”
“Honda of South Carolina's expansion announcement is great news. Quality, associates, and customer satisfaction is what Honda is all about,” said Frank J. “Buddy” Brand, Florence County Economic Development Partnership chairman. “We congratulate everyone involved and look forward to Honda's continued success in Florence County.”
Gov. Nikki Haley called Honda a “fantastic partner for nearly two decades,” and characterized news of the expansion as “another huge win for team South Carolina.”
World-class manufacturing firms continue to thrive in South Carolina, said Bobby Hitt, S.C. secretary of commerce, and bring new jobs to all corners of the state. He offered congratulations and said he looks forward to the company’s continued success in Florence County.
In mid-December of last year, S.C. Ports Authority president and CEO Jim Newsome was accompanied by Sen. Leatherman and USC Moore School of Business research economist Joseph Von Nessen, who authored a study that found the state’s ports account for an economic impact of more than $6 billion in the Pee Dee. The study was unveiled at Honda of South Carolina to underscore the bond between manufacturing and exports to jobs in the area.
On Thursday, Newsome said, “Honda is a valued corporate citizen and customer of the port, using our Charleston facilities for both import and export goods. SCPA congratulates them on the expansion of their business and looks forward to serving their growing cargo needs.”
In 2017, Honda will shift assembly consolidation of small and medium-displacement engines from Honda of South Carolina to its Kumamoto factory in Japan, which produces large-displacement engines. The move is designed to free up space at the Timmonsville plant for expanded side-by-side production as workers engaged with powertrain assembly operations will gain new responsibilities within the plant. The Timmonsville plant is one of Honda’s 19 major manufacturing facilities in North America. Honda of South Carolina is the sole production facility for Honda ATVs and side-by-side vehicles in the region. The company said it has produced more than three million products since the doors opened in 1998 with about 200 employees.
That initial $30 million investment with a 200,000-square-foot plant has evolved into a 630,150-square-foot facility that represents $344 million invested.
Florence County Economic Development Partnership executive director Joe W. King said his office will continue to follow the same plan it has for quite some time: take care of existing business and industry while working continually to bring new jobs and companies to the area.
“Honda is a name known around the world,” he said. “We’ve had good news with expansions this year and we’ll continue to work for more.”