COLUMBIA, S.C. – Harbor Freight Tools, Dillon County’s largest employer, today announced a one million-square foot expansion of its East Coast distribution facility. This expansion is projected to create more than 500 new jobs, bringing the company’s total investment in South Carolina to more than $200 million.
Founded in 1977, Harbor Freight Tools is a family-owned national tool retailer based in Calabasas, Calif. With more than 800 stores nationwide and a new store opening approximately every three days, the company has more than 40 million customers.
This is the third expansion of the company’s distribution center; the first occurred in 2006, and another took place in 2014. Harbor Freight currently employs 650 people at its Dillon facility in positions ranging from managers to warehouse stockers; and, with this new expansion, the company will hire 500 more from Dillon County and the surrounding region. Work on the new project is expected to break ground by the end of 2017, with completion expected in early 2019.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project. A $5 million Rural Infrastructure Grant was also awarded to Dillon County to assist with the costs of site preparation.
Harbor Freight Tools will significantly expand its South Carolina presence with an approximately one million-square-foot expansion of its East Coast distribution facility in Dillon, bringing the national retailer’s total footprint here to three million square feet, the company and Dillon County announced today.
Already the region’s largest employer, the national tool retailer will nearly double its workforce, adding 500 to 600 new jobs in Dillon and bringing its total investment in South Carolina to more than $200 million.
“Since we opened our first facility here in 2001, the company has continued to grow and so has our need for a larger distribution center,” said Harbor Freight Founder and CEO Eric Smidt. “We’ve made an investment in Dillon, we’ve become part of the community, and we’re proud to expand our presence in this region.”
When Harbor Freight built its initial 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Dillon in 2001, the company had 106 stores. Now with more than 800 locations around the country–and continuing to open two new stores a week–the retailer required a larger distribution center to serve as its East Coast hub to receive and distribute products to more than 450 stores in 30 states.
This represents the third expansion of the company’s distribution center. Harbor Freight doubled the size of its Dillon warehouse in 2006 and then doubled it again in 2014.
“Dillon County, along with leaders from Marion and Marlboro County, were instrumental in our decision to continue to expand here,” Smidt said. “The administrations worked closely with us to meet the expanding requirements of our company, and they assembled a strong team including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Marlboro Electric Cooperative, the South Carolina Ports Authority and the NESA Regional Alliance, who all strive to deliver a business atmosphere that promotes success.”
The project is scheduled to break ground by the end of the year and is expected to be completed by early 2019.
“Dillon County is extremely fortunate to enjoy a continued relationship with such a progressive company as Harbor Freight. This announcement represents historical advancements for Dillon County and beyond,” said Rodney Berry, Dillon county administrator.
Added Archie Scott, chairman of the Dillon County Council, “Today’s announcement by Harbor Freight represents progress and opportunity for all citizens, and it is the perfect complement to all the other great things that are going on in economic development in our county.”
Gov. Henry McMaster has championed business expansion in the region and hailed news of this latest expansion. “Harbor Freight Tools’ continued investment in Dillon County and in our people is a testament to our approach to creating a competitive business environment where companies of all kinds can thrive,” said McMaster. “The 500 jobs this great company is creating will make a difference in the lives of South Carolinians, and for that, we couldn’t be more grateful.”
South Carolina State Sen. Kent Williams and State Rep. Jackie Hayes both applauded the announcement and noted the boost to the local workforce. Harbor Freight currently employs 650 people in positions ranging from warehouse stockers to managers, and it is expected to hire up to 600 more from Dillon, Marion, Marlboro and surrounding counties.
“This announcement is a direct reflection of the commitment of Harbor Freight to our region,” Williams said. “For the past 16 years, this company has continued to invest and grow the economies of Dillon, Marion and Marlboro Counties. They have served as the anchor tenant for the Tri-County Industrial Park and continue to be a key player in its economic growth.”
“It is great to continue to see economic development activity increase in Dillon County,” said Hayes. “In a county that is beginning to see more growth, we are thankful for the continued investment and additional jobs that Harbor Freight Tools bring, which will significantly benefit our citizens.”
Marlboro Electric Cooperative and its wholly owned subsidiary Marlboro Development Team were integral partners attracting and negotiating this project. “We applaud Harbor Freight’s decision to expand again in Dillon County,” said William Fleming, president and CEO of Marlboro Electric and Marlboro Development Team. “Our board of trustees and employees work to improve the communities we serve, and we are excited about the continuing positive impact from our partnership with Harbor Freight Tools.”
The S.C. Ports Authority worked closely with Harbor Freight to continue developing increased importing solutions to best serve the tool retailer’s needs. Harbor Freight will be the first company to utilize the South Carolina Inland Port of Dillon that is currently under construction in the same industrial park and is scheduled to be completed early next year.
The company continued to demonstrate its commitment to the Dillon County community when it recently invested more than $600,000 to rebuild the Henry Street Park in Latta, which had fallen into disrepair in recent years. The park, which reopened in June, was fully renovated and equipped with new basketball courts, a baseball field and new playground equipment.
Founded in 1977, Harbor Freight Tools is a family-owned national tool retailer based in Calabasas, Calif. With more than 800 stores nationwide and two new stores opening every week, the company has over 40 million customers. Harbor Freight offers a large selection of quality tools at the lowest prices. For more information, visit www.harborfreight.com.
Quotes On The Announcement
“The significant expansion of Harbor Freight Tools is exciting news for the Port and state. They served as a catalyst for the development of Inland Port Dillon and will be the launch customer of that facility, further driving jobs and growth opportunities for the Dillon area. The Port values our role in Harbor Freight’s international supply chain and looks forward to a strong continued partnership with them.”
—S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome
“We are proud that Harbor Freight Tools has chosen to expand for the third time in the NESA region. Their ability to thrive here reflects well on the reliability and productivity of our workforce, our many logistical advantages and the support of our partner counties. We wish Harbor Freight continued success and look forward to working with them in the years to come.”
—North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA) Executive Committee Chairman Sen. Luke Rankin, Esq.
“The expansion of Harbor Freight’s distribution operations in Dillon County signals yet another vote of confidence by this great company in the Port, the local workforce and the strong business environment in South Carolina. Congratulations to Harbor Freight, and we look forward to your continued success.”
—Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
“The air is a little fresher and the sun shines a lot brighter today in Dillon County because of this announcement. Our goal here in Dillon is very simple and that is for every single person who wants a job to have one. We are very appreciative of this announcement and look forward to long and prosperous working relationship with Harbor Freight Tools.”
—Tonny McNeil, Executive Director, Dillon County Economic Development
• This expansion represents an $80 million investment.
• Creation of more than 500 new jobs.
• The company is expanding its facility by one million square feet.
• The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project. A $5 million Rural Infrastructure Grant was also awarded to Dillon County to assist with the costs of site preparation.
• Work on the project is expected to break ground by the end of 2017, with completion expected in early 2019.