Pegasus Steel expands to General Dynamics site

By Liz Segrist
Published May 8, 2014

Pegasus Steel LLC will take over the manufacturing of armored vehicles for General Dynamics Land Systems – Force Protection in Ladson as of September in an effort to keep manufacturing operations local.

Pegasus, a Goose Creek-based steel components manufacturer, will move into General Dynamics’ campus this month and take over production of its vehicles this fall, according to Pegasus Steel President and CEO Tony Deering. These mine-resistant and ambush-protected vehicles assist in the hunt for roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices.

This news comes after General Dynamics announced plans late last month to lay off 170 of its 226 local employees by the end of the year following budget cuts from sequestration and the wind down of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

General Dynamics produces the Buffalo, a mine clearance vehicle used by the U.S. Marine Corps to hunt for roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices. (Photo provided)
General Dynamics produces the Buffalo, a mine clearance vehicle used by the U.S. Marine Corps to hunt for roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices. (Photo provided)

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The company looked to partner with a local fabricator in order to keep its vehicle manufacturing operations in the Charleston region, according to the communications director Peter Keating.

Pegasus Steel and General Dynamics have been negotiating for several months, Deering said.

“This is great news for the local manufacturing community and Charleston at large,” Deering said.

Deering and Alex Russell co-founded Pegasus Steel in South Africa in 1994 and then relocated it to Goose Creek in 2007 to become a fabricated steel components supplier for Force Protection, which General Dynamics acquired three years ago to form General Dynamics Land Systems – Force Protection.

“The biggest killer of South African soldiers was the IED, and these trucks were pioneering technology ... At the time, Force Protection was air freighting in parts,” Deering said. “I saw an opportunity to build these trucks here in Charleston where they had laid their foundation.”

Pegasus Steel currently employs 205 people. This will be the company’s fourth location. It also operates its 104,000-square-foot fabrication facility in Goose Creek, another on the old Charleston naval base and an aerospace machine shop in Goose Creek.

In transition

The new partnership means Pegasus Steel will shift from supplying steel parts for the trucks to building the entire trucks to completion.

Pegasus will sell the finished vehicles to General Dynamics who will then sell them to their longtime defense customers, including the Marine Corps, Defense Logistics Agency and international customers.

Deering said Pegasus plans to “re-engage as many General Dynamics employees” who have been notified of layoffs as possible. He declined to comment on how many might be rehired or how many new jobs this would create for Pegasus.

The roughly 60 remaining General Dynamics employees in Ladson will continue as a part of that company. The local General Dynamics leadership will remain in place through the transition period.

Pegasus plans to be fully operationally in the new facility by September. Keating said the companies will reassess leadership positions at that time and did not wish to speculate on what might occur.

The Ladson facility manufactures the Buffalo, Cougar and other security vehicles for the U.S. government and several international customers.

General Dynamics plans to reposition its Ladson business by establishing a Center Of Excellence on the campus.

The center will include a core team from various departments to retain and build business with its customers, Keating said. It will house supply specialists that will manage inventory and direct field service representatives to customer locations.

Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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