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Palmetto State manufacturing, economic development, workforce development and human resources, construction, engineering, banking and legal sector representatives convened April 20-21 in Greenville for the 2016 South Carolina Manufacturing Conference and Expo presented by SC Biz News. Presentations focused on workforce, infrastructure, the emergence of new technology and globalization, successes of the automotive and aerospace industry, and intellectual protections for manufacturing. In a series of blogs, we’ll recap the ideas exchanged during the conference. 

Human resource panel discusses best practices for employers at the 2016 S.C. Manufacturing Conference & Expo.As the United States manufacturing sector grows, labor shortage and future demand for high-skilled workers are a critical issue nationwide that is also on the radar for South Carolina business and government leaders. 

A 2015 Skills Gap Study from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute predicts that “nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled, and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of these jobs going unfilled.”

The rate of retirement for Baby Boomers combined with the current growth in manufacturing contribute to the skills gap – but strategies for spanning the chasm were presented by a human resources panel at the 2016 South Carolina Manufacturing Conference & Expo. 

“The problem seems to be two-fold … how do we fix it now for the short term, and then how do we fix it 15 to 20 years from now?” said Steve Hall, VP of Business Development with Find Great People. “There’s an enormous amount of effort being put into the long-term fix … the bigger problem is: ‘What do we do to solve the problem now?’”

Evaluate your compensation structures

Many companies assume employee turnover is driven by unfavorable compensation structures. And while that’s only a piece of the puzzle, evaluating compensation frequently is vital to retaining talent. 
Randy Hatcher, President of MAU Workforce Solutions, challenged employers to analyze the roles all employees play in an operation – to identify the areas where vacancies would provide negative impacts, and to target those areas for considerable wage adjustments. 

Panel moderator Steve Nail, VP of Human Resources for Hubbell Lighting which is, headquartered in Greenville, provided anecdotal support. 

“Our company was having problems with turnover and started to look at the analysis of compensation; most companies have a general increase every year of, say, 3 percent, and that’s what we were doing every year,” Nail said. “Yet, when we did the analysis, we found that engineers’ salaries were going up by 6 percent, so the longer term engineers were getting further and further behind.”

Understand employees’ work styles 

Today’s workforce encompasses Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials, and each generation brings with it a distinct set of learning styles, desires and motivations – so using a one-size-fits-all approach runs the risk of alienating some employees. 

To build an atmosphere where all employees feel valued, the panelists recommended learning about each generation’s work styles and adapting management practices accordingly.  

“These young kids, they want to learn by doing,” said Randy Hatcher, President of MAU Workforce Solutions. “They don’t want to read it in a book.”

Another recommendation that gives employees ownership for their success: allow flexibility, and explore opportunities for retirement-age employees to gradually exit the workforce. 

Phillips Staffing President Ed Parris said one of his most productive recruiters works only three days per week and is nearing retirement age. Allowing older employees to phase out of their activities over a prolonged period with modified work schedules facilitates a smooth transfer of institutional knowledge while maintaining employee engagement.  

Market opportunities, be aware of your brand, and actively recruit

Each panelist emphasized the importance of establishing awareness for your company’s mission, culture, and opportunities to generate interest among candidates.  

“We’ve got to continue to market that manufacturing is not your dad’s manufacturing,” Parris said. “It’s a totally different environment.” 

Hall cited a Career Builder survey that found only seven percent of people found their jobs through a direct posting, but each person typically used 17 electronic resources to learn about their employer. That means it’s for companies to have a presence on social media platforms such as LinkedIn that can be used to build awareness for your company, to notify prospective employees about opportunities, and to engage in communication with candidates. 

Panelists also agreed that past recruitment mindset followed the “If you build it, they will come,” convention, but connecting with candidates today more closely resembles courtship activity.  

“There are a lot of companies that do what we call ‘Post and pray,’ and that just doesn’t work anymore,” Hatcher said. 

Hire best matches for your company 

Another common thread among the panelists: retaining quality employees is in the best interested of each business – and it starts with ensuring the candidate is right from the start. 

While most employers use a list of desired characteristics during the hiring process, Hatcher recommended making a list of the “no-go” qualities that can rule candidates out. 

He also suggested using behavior-based questions during interviews and conducting pre-employment test assignments that shine light on a candidate’s speed, quality and competency in completing required tasks. 

“You’re asking things that predict the behaviors that you’re looking for,” Hatcher said. 

As part of Upstate SC Alliance’s continuing efforts to build a stronger pipeline for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region, members from the Upstate SC Alliance team recently headed north for the 2014 Canadian Mission Trip.


Upstate SC Alliance Business Recruitment Officer Jacob Hickman was joined by Economic Futures Group Director of Business Development Brian Nash on a trip to visit several businesses throughout the greater Toronto region, which has a robust manufacturing environment, particularly in the field of precision manufacturing.


Like others around the globe, many manufacturers in Canada are currently looking towards Upstate South Carolina as a region to consider when exploring possibilities of expansion or relocation. As Hickman and Nash demonstrated on the trip, the region is advantageous for these businesses for several reasons, including low operating costs, right-to-work policies, logistics, and a skilled workforce.


“In one of the final mission trips for the year, we continued to hear the reoccurring theme for 2014: companies worldwide are performing very well and ready to revisit expansion plans,” said Hickman.


The Canadian Mission Trip proved to be a successful one, laying a foundation for the possibility of further onsite evaluation of the Upstate by Canadian manufacturers.


“This is a critical time for us to capitalize on that momentum and our plans for 2015 reflect our dedication to this mission. We will continue to work hard on converting established company relationships into visits to Upstate South Carolina, as we understand that having executives experience the Upstate brand firsthand is key.”


For more information about the Upstate’s global business climate and current international initiatives please visit .

By Aimee Redick - Published in Greenville Business Magazine - October 2012 Issue - Page 26

Aimee Redick of the Upstate SC Alliance

The Upstate has long prided itself on its history of manufacturing – from the grist mills that formed many of the region’s communities to the textile plants that created our identity all the way to the BMW's coming off the line every day in Greer.

While we are often recognized for our ability to produce complex, quality products, a major reason behind the Upstate’s modern economic success has been research and innovation. Our business leaders have long seen the value of not just creating a product, but creating it better than anywhere else in the world.

The Upstate began its journey into the automotive world with Spartanburg-based Milliken & Company. Back in the day, Milliken & Company produced fabric seats and roofing for Henry Ford’s gas-powered cars. Many years later our depth in the industry grew with the announcements of Michelin and BMW and developed even further with the creation of Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).

Since its groundbreaking in 2003, CU-ICAR has grown to be recognized as one of the top automotive research campuses in the world. The faculty and students are engaged in research for companies like BMW, Michelin, Timken, and Toyota. And in 2011, they announced plans for a joint economic development initiative called Project Green. Once established, Project Green will provide a unique test bed for public and private stakeholders in the world of sustainable mobility and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity.

One of the goals of the upcoming InnoMobility 2012 on November 7 and 8 at the TD Convention Center is to highlight the innovation that the region is forging in the mobility industry, which starts with automobiles that have four wheels on the pavement but goes well beyond.

Going into its second year, this conference is bringing together a community of diverse mobility leaders both globally and regionally that are exploring how evolving demographics and advancing technology can lead to new high-growth mobility markets.

Participants will have the opportunity to connect with mobility thought leaders from companies including Michelin North America, Sage Automotive Interiors, BMW, Ford, Cisco, Intel, and a variety of entrepreneurial firms including Volta Volare and Proterra as well as academic centers including CU-ICAR and the NSF FREEDM Systems Center at North Carolina State University.

Helping to illustrate the mobility story is a group of world-class speakers including:
•   Ryan Popple: Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, CA
•   Peter Falt: Director of Strategic Partnering for BMW Group Designworks USA, CA
•   Joel Hoffman: Business Strategist at Automotive Solutions Division at Intel, MI
•   Cliff Thomas: Managing Director, Smart+Connected Communities Cisco
•   David Berdish: Manager of Sustainable Business Development at Ford Motor Company, MI

The Southeast, and the Upstate especially, has found itself at the epicenter of a large, transforming global mobility industry with an innovative ecosystem of forward thinking mobility companies and academic centers. By no means, was this happenstance.

Our region and its leaders from both the public and private sector have long seen the power of collaboration, with CU-ICAR being a prime example. To continue with this tradition, support is growing faster than ever for innovative entrepreneurs through projects such as the Greenville Chamber’s NEXT Innovation Center; the Center for Business & Entrepreneurial Development at the Spartanburg Community College Tyger River Campus; the annual InnoVenture conference that brings together leaders in the innovation sector and the South Carolina Research Authority that is supporting research and development throughout the region.

Today the Upstate is not only building the ultimate driving machine, it's also building the next generation of automotive engineers and a breeding ground for mobility innovations and entrepreneurs. All of which helps build and sustain the Upstate’s growing economy and a unique quality of life.

Aimee Redick is an Investment Recruitment Officer for the Upstate S.C. Alliance. She is establishing a network of automotive-related leaders in the Upstate to help in the marketing and recruitment efforts to this region. Additional information is available through the Alliance’s automotive web site, To learn more about InnoMobility and to view the latest agenda, visit

South Carolina's major ports can be found in Charleston and Georgetown. To learn more about SC ports, click "Read Our Blog."

  • Major ports: Port of Charleston, Port of Georgetown
  • Ship/barges served: 1,607 (both ports)
  • Tonnage handled: 647,811 tons at Charleston; 229,040 tons at Georgetown
  • Channel depth: Charleston, 45 feet (up to 48 feet at highest draft depth); Georgetown, 27 feet
  • Average truck turnaround time at Port of Charleston: 21 minutes
  • Crane moves per hour at Port of Charleston: 41
  • Value of goods shipped: $50.2 billion at Port of Charleston

Visit to read more of this article.

Forbes included downtown Greenville on its list of 10 cities with America's Best Downtowns.

As recently as fifteen years ago, there would be no chance of Greenville making anybody’s list of top downtown areas. Suffering from decades worth of neglect losing business to the suburbs, the city engaged in an aggressive renewal project that has been enormously successful in transforming the downtown into a thriving cluster of new homes, shops, restaurants, and arts offerings. “There are pedestrian areas where people are walking around and shopping, and it’s really different from the other cities in South Carolina,” says Clampet. The addition of a BMW plant 30 miles outside the city has had a big impact on the workers coming in, and has changed it, in Clampet’s terms, “from a backwater to a really functioning and beautiful place.”

Read the entire report in Forbes by clicking here.

A new executive leadership institute has been launched in Upstate South Carolina. QLI International offers corporations and businesses specialized workshops to help ensure leadership success.

The QLI Leadership Institute is led by CEO and Executive Coach Manfred Gollent, who has facilitated strategy and business improvement processes for companies in the United States and internationally. Gollent has extensive experience in all areas of management including marketing, sales, financial operations, product development and manufacturing.

“Our leadership development solutions are designed to address core business needs,” said Gollent. “Through the institute, we provide individuals with the tools they need to confidently and effectively lead others. Ultimately, we’re helping businesses achieve greater organizational performance and success.”

QLI International specialties include customized leadership workshops, sustainability coaching and coaching to support organizational change. On-site corporate leadership workshops are personalized to each organization’s specific needs, goals and objectives. In response to expanding market needs, QLI International has also developed a specialized series of leadership workshops open to participants from different organizations. Each of these workshops focuses on a common business process such as sales or project management. “Some companies do not have enough employees or the budget to assemble a group coaching process,” said Gollent. “Through these workshops, we’re able to offer a high level of coaching in a facilitated fashion to a group with comparable knowledge and skills."

To register or see a listing of QLI International’s upcoming leadership group workshops, visit

Currently scheduled group workshops include:
•Leading Project Teams Effectively – Leadership training for project managers
•Sales Training for Non-Sales Professionals
•Leadership Development for the Department Manager
•Transformational Leaders; Working on, Not In the Business

About QLI International

QLI International is a leadership consulting firm headquartered in Greer, South Carolina that was founded to provide comprehensive leadership development and organizational performance solutions. Through executive coaching and facilitated leadership development focused on individual effectiveness, strategy, productivity, efficiency and organizational development, QLI International helps professionals and organizations reach their business goals. For more information, visit or call 864.877.5235.

The South Carolina Power Team recently added new target industry data and information to its website The enhancements give the web visitor feedback on why many world class companies have chosen to locate their operations in the state.

“Our latest advertising campaign is designed to tell our targets how a location in South Carolina can add value to their bottom line,” said Fred Gassaway, EVP of Marketing at the Power Team. “By including these messages in our website, we are delivering our story more comprehensively through an interactive, 24x7 platform.”

In addition to general information, visitors to the upgraded Power Team website can also read “Why South Carolina?” as related to the following industry sectors: automotive, aerospace, logistics, medical and renewable energy. Visit today at

The South Carolina Power Team represents the state’s electric cooperatives and Santee Cooper in their industry recruitment efforts. With economic development experience unmatched in the state, the South Carolina Power Team provides professional, cost-free site location counseling to help new industrial and distribution facilities find a home and existing ones expand.

The South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Greenville Area Development Corporation today announced that Griffin Thermal Products LLC, a maker of thermal transfer products for automotive and industrial sectors, will relocate its existing operations to a significantly larger facility in Piedmont in Greenville County.

The multi-million dollar investment is expected to generate at least 50 new jobs, and possibly more, as the new facility becomes fully operational.

“We are pleased to move forward with our plans to expand here in Greenville County, as this expansion will allow us to grow in size, sales and profitability while delivering industry leading cooling and quality to our customers,” said Tom Beebe, vice president of Griffin Thermal Products. “The Piedmont area and the Upstate have provided an excellent home for our business, and we appreciate all the support we have received from state and local officials.”

Griffin Thermal will relocate from its current facility to 750 Estes Plant Road in Piedmont, acquiring and completely refurbishing the vacant former Delta Mills Estes Plant in the process. The 330,000 square foot facility, which provides four times the space previously utilized by the company, will be completely updated and fitted to a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The new location will include two vacuum braze ovens, an induction welding tube mill, and a radiator core building center as well as complete sales, marketing, distribution and administrative operations for the company.

“Today’s announcement shows we are doing what it takes to help South Carolina’s existing businesses grow. We celebrate the new jobs Griffin Thermal Products will create with this expansion and congratulate them on their success,” said Gov. Nikki Haley.

Founded in 1981, Griffin Thermal Products has been the industry leader in high performance cooling and specializes in after market racing radiators, oil coolers, intercoolers, and super charger coolers. Purchased in 2006 by a private investor, the company builds products for all forms of racing including circle track and drag racing. Street rod, classic and muscle car products have long been a staple of the company’s product line, which also includes OEM, industrial, agricultural, construction and aviation/aerospace cooling systems. The company prides itself on manufacturing every component of its aluminum radiators and cooling devices, from small computers to seven foot tall radiators for diesel train engines.

“This is the fifth automotive-related announcement we’ve had in the past month, and serves as another indication that our reputation in the automotive club continues to grow,” Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce.

Automotive continues to be a leading sector in South Carolina. Commerce has been involved in recruiting more than $400 million in investment and more than 700 jobs in the automotive-related sector since the beginning of the year.

All employees currently with Griffin will transfer to the new location, and an additional 50-100 new jobs will be created as the new facility comes fully operational. A limited number of positions have already been filled to assist with transition and improvements to the new facility, Beebe noted.

“We are pleased that Griffin Thermal has chosen to expand their successful operations here in Greenville County,” said Chris Riley, chairman of the Greenville Area Development Corporation. “Their decision to add dozens of jobs here is an important affirmation of one of the county's focus areas -- growing our advanced manufacturing base. Griffin Thermal is an innovation-driven enterprise with deep Upstate roots, and a prized member of our business community.”

The company will begin hiring for new positions in November, at which time further details will be released on how individuals interested in job opportunities with Griffin Thermal should apply.

For more information on Griffin Thermal Products, please visit

Fundraising to Kick Off with Members Serving on Volunteer Workforce at Downtown Alive on Thursday, July 28, All Tips from the Evening Will Go Directly to Habitat for Humanity Project

The Upstate Council of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of the Carolinas and the Greenville Chapter of Architecture for Humanity (AfH) announce they are teaming up to design and build an economical, sustainable, energy efficient home for Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County in 2012. Time and materials will be provided on a pro-bono basis by ABC and AfH member companies — architectural firms, general and specialty contractors, materials vendors and suppliers.

Fundraising efforts are set to kick off on Thursday evening, July 28 at Downtown Alive. ABC and AfH member volunteers will be selling tickets, serving refreshments and performing other functions for this weekly public entertainment venue, with tips collected (in well-marked jars) at the various stations going directly to the 2012 Habitat for Humanity home build project.

ABC and AfH intend to leverage their resources to go beyond building a traditional Habitat home. ”By joining forces, we have a unique opportunity to not only create a home that can be affordably replicated many times over, but also to provide a creative design which families will benefit from, such as incorporating a number of sustainable features,” said Brad Benjamin, AIA, CSI, LEED AP, co-director of Architecture for Humanity/Greenville, and president of Radium Architecture, a local firm located in downtown Greenville. “However, we will need financial support from the local business community and the public in order to make this happen.  We encourage people to come downtown on July 28 and show their support for this special Habitat build. It will be an amazing gift for a deserving family.”

Darath Mackie, chairwoman of ABC/Upstate and director of business development for Greenville-based Cely Construction, added, “One of the priorities of ABC Upstate has been to look for opportunities where we in the construction industry can make a difference using our collective skills and resources to give back to the community at large. By partnering with other organizations in our field — like Architecture for Humanity — we can learn from one another, set a positive example for future leaders in our industry, and also raise the bar for humanitarian efforts in the Upstate.”

About ABC of the Carolinas

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of the Carolinas represents the merit construction contractors and related firms in North and South Carolina. Current membership for the two-state region exceeds 500 member firms. ABC of the Carolinas supports members in South Carolina through established local Councils in the Upstate, Midlands and Low Country. ABC of the Carolinas is a chapter of the national ABC organization which represents more than 25,000 members.

About Architecture for Humanity: Greenville

Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit design services firm founded in 1999 in order to build a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. By tapping a network of more than 50,000 professionals willing to lend time and expertise to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford their

services, Architecture for Humanity brings design, construction and development services where they are most critically needed.

For more information and news, visit and

PRETTL Electronics Greenville Inc., a new enterprise, will launch operations this summer to produce inverters for the fast-growing solar panel industry. The new operation will be housed at PRETTL Electric Corporation’s existing Greenville County facility, company officials and representatives of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and Greenville Area Development Corporation announced this week.

The new business initiative and addition of a custom production line will account for the addition of at least 80 new jobs and investment of upwards of $1.5 million in specialty equipment and space upfitting over the next three years at PRETTL’s facility at 1721 White Horse Road in Greenville. Hiring for at least a dozen positions to launch the effort will begin immediately, officials announced.

Founded in Germany in 1953, PRETTL has grown to encompass over 5,000 employees at 33 locations in 19 countries around the world, through four primary business units: Automotive, Consumer, Home Appliances and Electronics. PRETTL operations were originally established in Greenville in 1988, where upwards of 100 associates are currently employed.

PRETTL's Electronics Division is a leading end-to-end supplier for electronics providers, offering services ranging from research and development to manufacturing and service after the sale. PRETTL products are found in such diverse industries as medical engineering, telecommunications, automotive and lighting, with the company's diverse product portfolio including electronic components for wireless systems, wireless communication modules, and inverters for photovoltaic and drive system applications.

PRETTL Electronics Greenville Inc. represents the electronics division's first presence in the United States marketplace and will result in the assembly of inverters for solar energy producers, with distribution handled by PRETTL’s sister company REFUsol. Inverters are electrical devices that convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) at any required voltage and frequency with the use of appropriate transformers, switching, and control circuits. Inverters are commonly used to supply AC power from DC sources such as solar panels or wind turbines.

“Our goal with this initiative is to provide outstanding customer service, product quality, high value, and rapid delivery to meet the needs of customers in the growing alternative energy space,” said Rainer Koschate, chief operations manager of Prettl Electronics Greenville, Inc. “We are pleased to establish operations here in Greenville County, are very appreciative for the support and leadership of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, readySC, South Carolina Department of Commerce, and everyone who assisted in making this announcement a reality.”

The jobs being added include assemblers, quality support positions, planners, warehousing and related positions, Koschate noted. To fill the positions, PRETTL is working with readySC in the recruiting and training of associates. All positions being recruited for will pay “competitive market wages with full benefits based on experience,” he added. Applications for Prettl Electronics are being accepted at the One Stop/Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) Office at McAlister Square in Greenville. The jobs are also posted on the Virtual One Stop system where individuals can apply online from anywhere in the state (

“PRETTL has been part of our state’s business community for years and we look forward to the company expanding its presence in South Carolina with this new initiative. The announcement of the new jobs and investment serves as another indication that our state is doing the right things to attract business from around the globe,” said Gov. Nikki Haley.

“South Carolina has a strong trade relationship with Germany, with a number of Germany-based companies investing in our state. PRETTL’s decision to further invest in our state will certainly help strengthen that relationship as well as create new jobs for South Carolinians. We appreciate PRETTL’s decision to continue doing business in the Palmetto State,” said Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce.

“PRETTL is a wonderful example of a company that combines world-class technology, lean processes and local talent to succeed here in the Upstate,” said Chris Riley, Chairman of the Greenville Area Development Corporation. “The company is an important member of our international business community and adds to the economic vitality to be found here in Greenville County.”