By Greg Oliver
LIBERTY — Sealevel, a manufacturing facility that opened 26 years ago, has added 20 new employees, a new circuit assembly line and undergone two major facility expansions during the past year-and-a-half.
On Tuesday, business and industry leaders gathered at the plant’s site on S.C. 93 in Liberty to celebrate the news and tour the facility. Ben O’Hanlan, president of Sealevel, and son of founders Tom and Susan O’Hanlan, said while the company survived the economic downturn that began several years ago, it led to the decision to move away from outsourcing and bring its circuit assembly in house.
“Sealevel products are designed and manufactured at our Liberty headquarters which allows for more control over product development, production, burn-in and testing,” O’Hanlan said. “The new circuit assembly line allows us to provide more capabilities to our customers while continuing to ensure that they receive the highest quality products and services.”
Sealevel houses its design, sales, support and manufacturing in a 48,000-square-foot facility. In 2010, in a move to accommodate its decision to produce in-house, the company worked with a Greenville building firm on a major expansion to allow space for future operations and additional warehouse areas.
The following year, the company expanded again, creating a more flexible manufacturing space and adding an in-house circuitry line. In order to prevent static electricity damage to electronic equipment, Sealevel installed more than 28,000 feet of state-of-the-art electronic static discharge tiling and 10,000 square feet of warehouse space was renovated for manufacturing purposes.
In the process, the company grew its work force to its current total of approximately 70.
Pickens County Council Chairman Jennifer Willis praised Tom and Susan O’Hanlan for turning a dream into a reality more than 25 years ago.
“A company began in Pickens County because two people had a dream that is growing,” Willis said. “We’re thrilled to have them as part of our community and celebrate this expansion today.”
Alliance Pickens Executive Director Ray Farley said Tom and Susan O’Hanlan are “true heroes” in Pickens County, having moved from Virginia in the 1980s to eventually form Sealevel.
“They brought with them a wealth of technology that did not exist in Pickens County,” Farley said. “They began to employ residents with family-raising wages.”
Former U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, who was also among the more than 50 people in attendance, said the desire of Tom and Susan O’Hanlan to build their own business is what makes the American entrepreneurial spirit great.
“It’s that drive, that determination, that spark inside all of us that says we’re going to do something different – we’re going to make a difference,” Barrett said.
Tom O’Hanlan said the growth he has witnessed in the company he and his wife built nearly three decades ago is humbling.
“It makes you appreciate family,” Tom O’Hanlan said. “Hopefully, we’ll have something here that continues to grow.”