Composite manufacturer opens North Charleston plant

InterTech President Jonathan Zucker speaks with Gov. Nikki Haley at the opening of his company’s newest manufacturing plant in North Charleston. (Photo/Andy Owens)
InterTech President Jonathan Zucker speaks with Gov. Nikki Haley at the opening of his company’s newest manufacturing plant in North Charleston. (Photo/Andy Owens)

By Andy Owens
aowens@scbiznews.com
Published March 18, 2013

Soon after cutting the ribbon and opening the doors on The InterTech Group’s newest manufacturing plant in North Charleston today, company President Jonathan Zucker noted it was the fifth anniversary of the death of his father, philanthropist and entrepreneur Jerry Zucker.

“Without his vision and his tireless, around-the-clock effort, we certainly would not have been here today,” Jonathan Zucker said. “In addition to his leadership and success, he set the example for all of us, his team.”

With state, local and area manufacturing officials, the company cut the ribbon and offered a look inside the $30 million TIGHitco plant, which is an Atlanta-based aerospace subsidiary of The InterTech Group. The 100,000-square-foot composite manufacturing facility at the Palmetto Commerce Park is expected to create 350 jobs.

“This facility is Phase I. In other words, this is just the beginning of what we ultimately expect to be approximately 300,000 square feet of state-of-the-art, advanced-composite manufacturing space,” Zucker said.

This autoclave at TIGHitco’s new plant will be used to cure and harden composite materials used in a number of products, including aircraft parts. (Photos/Andy Owens)
This autoclave at TIGHitco’s new plant will be used to cure and harden composite materials used in a number of products, including aircraft parts. (Photo/Andy Owens)

Standing on a brightly polished floor in front of a large autoclave that will be used to cure and harden composite materials used in a number of products, including aircraft parts, Zucker said the plant represented a shift in manufacturing for the Southeast.

“As you can see from looking around, this isn’t the typical manufacturing plant of the old South,” he said. “This facility that you’re in now is over 100,000 square feet, climate-controlled, well-lit, high-tech production space.”

Gov. Nikki Haley listed a number of TIGHitco’s customers, including several that are operating in the Palmetto Commerce Park, such as Boeing and Daimler.

“You look at all of these great companies that we have, and instead of choosing any other place in the country they could go, they wanted to bring it home to South Carolina,” Haley said.

TIGHitco President Peter Nicholas said the number of nearby customers was part of the reason for moving to North Charleston.

“We want to shrink down the supply chain, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Nicholas said. “So we look for the aerospace companies and other companies in the Southeast.”

The InterTech Group purchased the aerospace subsidiary TIGHitco in 1991, which was a single location in Atlanta, Nicholas said. The North Charleston facility is the company’s sixth plant with a total of 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space and more than 700 employees.

“We’re really looking forward to what we can do here in Charleston,” Nicholas said. “When you look at our company, the key to our success has been our focus on delivering operational excellence in everything we do.”

Nicholas said the plant will enter Phase II and Phase III, each expanding about 100,000 square feet of space, as sales and demand increases for the company’s products.

The InterTech Group Chairperson and CEO Anita Zucker, who took over the company after her husband, Jerry Zucker, died after battling cancer, received a standing ovation before speaking during the event.

“Thank you. That was so unexpected,” she said. “First of all, being here in North Charleston and looking out at the audience, you’re family. You are part of our family, and we couldn’t continue to do what we do every day without you.”

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said the significance of The InterTech Group expanding its group of facilities in North Charleston could not be underestimated because it was a “Zucker company,” he said.

“But I think you are saying volumes as a company, as InterTech, by saying we’ve been here, we know the people of the Lowcountry,” Summey said. “We know the people of the state of South Carolina, and because of that we’re investing in where we know is our home.”

Reach Andy Owens at 843-849-3142.

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