KP Components, Inc. Investing $10 Million in Easley Facility - Easley Progress
By Jason Evans
EASLEY — A company based in Denmark has selected Easley as the site of its North American headquarters.
KP Components, Inc., a Computer Numeric Controlled precision machining company, announced Tuesday that it would be investing $10 million in its Easley headquarters, as well as creating over 50 new jobs over the next five years.
Alliance Pickens Executive Director Ray Farley said the company does “very, very, very high end manufacturing utilizing robotics and automation to meet extremely narrow tolerances.”
CEO Stig Laursen said KP Components hopes to begin production at its new Pelzer Highway location in January 2012.
Hiring will also begin in January, he said.
“We’re planning that by the end of next year, we’ll have 20 employees,” Laursen said.
The Easley facility represents the first time the company, founded in 1969, has expanded out of Denmark, Laursen said.
The company will produce hydraulic components, farm equipment, heavy equipment and wind power turbines.
KP Components, Inc. exports about 50 percent of its product, Laursen said.
The need for more capacity drove the search for a North American facility, he said. The company explored Kansas before selecting Pickens County.
The decision made sense logistically, as KP Components already has customers in the U.S. and a North American facility would allow the company to better serve them, Laursen said.
“Our customers will experience better service,” he said.
The pro-business environment in Pickens County also factored heavily in the decision, he said.
“We’re fortunate that we live in a community that’s very, very pro-business,” Farley said, citing the area’s low tax rates. That doesn’t come by accident, we have a very dynamic County Council that is driving the effort, watching the pennies and managing the checkbook.”
Farley cited County Administrator Chap Hurst and his belief that government job is to set the table for business and industry — and then get out of the way.
“We’ll give you everything you need to succeed and then we’ll stay out of the way,” said Pickens County Chair Jennifer Willis. “If you need us, we’re here, but we’re not ever going to get in the way of business doing what business does best — which is create product, deliver value and compete internationally.”
Willis said that announcements like these are “the best part of my job.”
“When people ask why I do it, this is why I do it, because this is the future of our county,” Willis said.
She said the company recognized the county’s resources, including Clemson University, Tri-County Technical College and area schools.
The county’s labor force is a plus as well, Laursen said.
“What we’re doing is kind of complex, with CNC machining, robotics and fixtures, in a combination,” Laursen said. “It is complex, and we need the right skills in the operators, who’ll work alone, solving problems in their daily work.”
Farley said that the area’s labor force is up to the task.
The company will be hiring CNC operators, quality technicians, logistic and planning and administrative positions.
The pay scale will be between $16-$20 an hour, Laursen said.
Farley again pointed to the success of the county’s robotics and mechatronics programs as factors in companies such as KP Components and JR Automation Technologies — which announced last week that it would be expanding with a Pickens facility — choosing to bring their companies to Pickens County.
“Our students are being trained by Tri-County Technical College, and the Pickens County Career Center and our Pickens K-12 — they’re being trained to solve problems,” Farley said. “They’re being trained to think analytically and solve technical problems, technical issues. It is good to know that our community is outputting that type of worker and that we have the infrastructure in place to accomplish that task.”
Laursen agreed. He and Farley toured Tri-County Technical College and the district’s Career and Technology Center.
“It’s very valuable to us,” he said.
Laursen said his company will hopefully create more jobs in the state.
“I think it’s great for Pickens County that we’re bringing in new technology,” Laursen said. “We’re in high competition with Asia, and we would like to fight against this, to create jobs in Denmark and in the U.S. We have the same challenge — not to let the jobs go to Asia. Competing with Asia is a tough agenda, but we believe we can get the job done.”
Alliance Pickens Chairman Dr. Ronnie Booth said Alliance Pickens has one goal — “creating and sustaining employment, particularly in our manufacturing sector.”
Achieving that goal is done through partnerships, Booth said.
“That brings us to today,” he said. “The future really is today.”
KP Components, Inc. is committed to being the best in its field, Booth said.
“It’s refreshing to meet Stig Laursen and his company and realize that they don’t want to be an also-ran manufacturer,” Booth said. “They want to be the best and extend what they’ve done for years in the Denmark facility, and extend that to North America.”
Project Manager Warren Darby, with the SC Department of Commerce, said KP Component’s decision to base their North American headquarters in Easley shows the state “can compete not only nationally, but globally.”