Korean fiber maker brings Sumter 28 jobs

October 17, 2007

Korean manufacturing company Custom Fibers Inc., has purchased the 87,000-square-foot Federal Mogul building on Jefferson Road as part of a $3.275 million investment and hopes to have it fully operational by next spring, said Sumter Development Board President Jay Schwedler on Friday.

State Department of Commerce officials said Custom Fibers Inc. — a wholly owned subsidiary of Ulsan-City, Korea-based Bookwang Industries — manufactures polyester fiber used in automotive, furniture and carpet applications for companies such as BMW, GM, Hyundai, Ford, Ashley Furniture and various carpet manufacturers. According to a release from the Department of Commerce, the move will bring 28 jobs to Sumter.

“We’re excited about it. It’s not a tremendously large project, but it follows trends,” Schwedler said, as recent project announcements in South Carolina have generally been in the $3 million to $5 million range.

“And we expect that investment to grow,” he said, noting this shows the resilience of manufacturing. “Textile is not completely a foregone conclusion in the United States. We’re going to do what we can to help them grow and be successful in the community.”

The Federal Mogul building has been empty about three years, and Schwedler said the purchase price of the building itself was about $1 million to $1.2 million.

“We are excited about locating our manufacturing operations in Sumter, and we look forward to working with the community and growing our business,” said H.B. Chung, Custom Fiber Inc. president, in a statement.

Custom Fibers’ industry has seen an approximate 20 percent increase in demand during the past several years, said company officials, and its new Sumter facility will help the company meet the growing demand.

“Convincing international companies to invest in Sumter County is something our community has always done well,” said Sumter County Council Chairwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney. “We believe it really shows that we can compete not only domestically, but globally. We welcome our new friends from Korea into our community and will do everything we can to ensure their success in Sumter County.”

Sumter Development Board Chairman Greg Thompson said Sumter’s strong labor force, geographically favorable location and commitment to the manufacturing sector are positive factors that helped Custom Fibers Inc.‘s executive team site its first facility outside of Korea.

“We look forward to a long relationship with this great company,” he said. “The residents and business people here in Sumter County already know this is a great place to live, raise children and do business. Soon our friends from Custom Fibers Inc. will know this, too.”

Central S.C. Alliance Chairman George Bullwinkel Jr. said global companies are increasingly discovering the value of establishing manufacturing and distribution facilities in our region, especially because of the proximity of the Port of Charleston.

Other Korean owned companies in the state include Peace Textile America Inc., also in Sumter; Kiswire Ltd. in Newberry; and Silstar Corp. of America in West Columbia, said state Department of Commerce officials.

(This article reprinted with permission of The Item. For more, please see www.theitem.com.)