Beaufort, US headquarters for Geismer, makes equipment that rides on roads and rails
A new manufacturing business coming to northern Beaufort County plans to create about 50 jobs.
Glass WRX SC will operate at 302 Parker Drive in a building vacated by manufacturer Parker Hannifin in 2015, owner Chris Fisher said Monday. The business will collect glass from numerous sources throughout three states to be converted into various products, including kitchen counters, floor tiles and wall materials, he said.
“We are going to open up a one-of-a-kind glass manufacturing plant,” Fisher said.
The business will renovate the 85,000-square-foot building and initially hire up to 35 jobs. The company will eventually employ between 45 and 55 people in Beaufort, with pay starting at $18 per hour, Fisher said.
Installing the necessary equipment could take four to five months, he said. The building will be solar powered.
Fisher founded Fisher Recycling in North Charleston in 1992, and the company now serves 800 commercial and residential customers, according to its website. The business also includes an arm that builds recycled glass countertops and other hard surfaces.
The manufacturing operation will move to Beaufort with the opening of Glass WRX, while the North Charleston facility will continue to collect glass, Fisher said. In addition to making products from glass, the company will offer air and water filtration systems, he said.
Parker Drive is an industrial area in Burton, across Trask Parkway from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The area includes Highway 21 Drive In movie theater, a recently expanded Harris Pillow manufacturer and a 160-acre commerce park purchased by the city of Beaufort in 2012.
Railroad manufacturer Geismar made Parker Drive its U.S. headquarters when it moved in a vacant 47,000 square-foot building in 2017.
The glass manufacturer will help fill the void left by Parker Hannifin. The company employed more than 50 people when it closed its Beaufort manufacturing operation in 2015. The company had employed as many as 260 people here.
“In the last 12 months, we saw 330 new jobs through projects we worked on,” said John O’Toole, executive director of the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation. “The 60 jobs (expected at Glass WRX) go toward replacing that hole and diversifying the employment base in Beaufort County.”
Fisher asked for the 35-acre property to be annexed into the city of Beaufort and for an industrial zoning. A northern Beaufort county planning committee was scheduled to consider the annexation and zoning requests and offer a recommendation at its meeting Monday evening.
Beaufort City Council will then have to approve the annexation and zoning request.
City Manager Bill Prokop said this month the city is prepared to annex about 30 new commercial properties.
“We must be prepared to change and adjust to the times,” Prokop told council members about the expected growth.