By Daniel Brock
Published July 1, 2010
With outsized wrenches and mini screwdrivers arranged neatly on towering shelves, Gedore Tools Inc. celebrated the grand opening of its new U.S. distribution center today in North Charleston.
The ceremony was the culmination of a three-year effort by the hand tool company’s parent, Gedore Group of Remscheid, Germany, to ramp up operations in the United States.
“We are all over the map, but there are spaces we were not,” said Dirk Berg, Gedore Group’s executive director.
The opening of the center serves as another sign that the manufacturing industry in the Lowcountry continues to grow.
As the national economy struggles to pull itself out of the doldrums, Boeing Co.’s new 787 Dreamliner facility is ahead of schedule for completion, and alternative energy company IMO Group, another German-owned outfit, is slated to open a 190-employee factory in Dorchester County later this month.
Gedore offers an expansive array of tools, such as pliers, torque wrenches and 12 types of hammer. The company will stock 4,500 of its 18,000 items at the North Charleston facility, at Suite 700 of 7187 Bryhawke Circle, near the intersection of Cross County and Dorchester roads.
The products serve four core markets: automotive, aviation, industrial and renewable energy. Each of those sectors has a presence in South Carolina, the latter being led by a massive wind turbine drivetrain testing facility set to open in North Charleston in 2012.
“To be successful,” Berg said, “you have to be up-to-date.”
Today, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey likened the modestly sized facility to a “grown man’s Toys R Us” — and said he’d take two of everything in stock.
Summey also spoke of a future in which Gedore would increase its inventory here, move into a standalone building and eventually manufacture tools in the United States.
“We want to grow with you,” Summey said.
Gedore Group employs 3,000 people worldwide but only a handful at its North Charleston facility. Officials, however, pointed to the company’s Russian operation, which began with a staff of five and now has 160 employees after little more than a decade.
“Which is the most successful country, Russia or U.S.?” said Timo Winter, president and CEO of Gedore Tools Inc., indicating his expectations.
Gedore, the largest tool manufacturing conglomerate in the world, does business in more than 70 countries and has manufacturing plants in Germany, Austria, South Africa and Brazil.
The company entered the United States in 2002 with the acquisition of automotive tool maker Klann Tools, which also operated out the Bryhawke Circle location.
Officials said Gedore has spent the past several years tailoring materials such as catalogs and Web content for American consumers.
“They’re able to expand with cultural understanding,” said Kristian Wolf, president of the German American Chamber of Commerce, which has more than 100 member companies in South Carolina. “They’ve learned to adapt to the different markets.”
Reach Daniel Brock at 843-849-3144.