Industry Leaders in Laurens County

captions: Ceramtec — From left: Gov. Henry McMaster, Barry Ellis, Mike Whaley, Kayli Merritt, Annika Reichow (all 4 from CeramTec), Bobby Hitt (Secretary, SC Department of Commerce). - SC Commerce photo Walmart Distribution — From left: Gov. Henry McMaster, Rob Roe, Larry Owens, Maurice Nunn, John Carter, Bruce Bailey (all 5 from Walmart), Bobby Hitt (Secretary, SC Department of Commerce). - SC Commerce Photo


Two Laurens County industries receive statewide Industry Impact Awards


COLUMBIA - As part of the 27th annual Industry Appreciation series, the S.C. Department of Commerce recognized its 2018 Industry Impact award recipients during an event on Thursday, April 26. Two Laurens County industries were awarded and were honored for their significant contributions to their communities and state.

Each year, S.C. Commerce joins local communities to thank businesses for their vital contributions to South Carolina’s economy with an Industry Appreciation event. Nominees for this year’s Industry Impact awards were judged based on several factors, including capital investment, job creation, community engagement and environmental stewardship.

Nominated by Laurens County Development Corporation (LCDC), CeramTec North America and Walmart Distribution Center were both recognized at this year’s awards ceremony.

“CeramTec and Walmart Distribution are staples in the Laurens County Community.  They have been successful here for many years,” LCDC Executive Director, Jonathan Coleman, said. “Not only do they provide employment to over 1100 people, collectively, they are very involved in giving back to the Community. We were excited to celebrate their accomplishments with them and are very proud they both call Laurens County home.”

CeramTec has been a long-time industry of 50+ years in Laurens County, which continues to place a strong emphasis on service to both customers and community service year after year.  

CeramTec has received prestigious service awards from United Technology Aircraft Systems and General Atomics and have been recognized by Raytheon Company with a “Supplier Excellence Award.” Their employees take community service seriously and have teamed up to raise money for charities such as Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, Relay for Life, and the Wounded Warrior Project. The CeramTec Christmas Choir also comes together to perform at local nursing home facilities each year. One employee was awarded the 2017 SC Manufacturing Employee of the Year Award from the SC Chamber in the “Small Employer–Production” Category. The president of the company, Brent Pahach, sits on the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce Board and provides sponsorships to local initiatives. Another testament to CeramTec’s success is that they concluded 2017 with 222 full time employees which was an increase of 24 during the year. Recognizing the current challenges of an available skilled workforce and building interest in manufacturing careers for students, CeramTec was a willing partner with the Laurens County Development Corporation’s workforce development video initiative. They permitted video filming and interviewing of staff in their work environments, providing real-world exposure to students and parents viewing the video.

Walmart Distribution located in Laurens County in 1988 and has been a positive community partner and one of the largest employers ever since, maintaining close to 1,000 employees. During 2017, multiple teams of 50+ employees of this facility have volunteered time and money to charitable initiatives such as: Relay for Life, March of Dimes, Children’s Miracle Network, and Habitat for Humanity. Community grant awards totaling $39,000 were awarded to over 30 charitable organizations in Laurens County and the surrounding counties. As an organization, Walmart employees have spent time in local schools making a difference with students.  

At Sanders Middle, managers visit once a month to mentor and share company prepared curriculum with 8th graders preparing them for high school and the next steps beyond. Through this work, they qualified the school for a $2,000 grant by having over 20 managers volunteering over 240 hours during the school year. Through a program called Samaritan’s Feet, Walmart partnered with Joanna-Woodson Elementary, which has approximately 300 students, 5K – 5th grade. All students were able to select a new pair of tennis shoes and Walmart volunteers washed and dried the student’s feet, then put on their newly-selected shoes. Top managers from this facility have also partnered with LCDC’s Business & Education Partnership team. The suggestion of teaching the SC Manufacturing Certification (SCMC) at the local high schools originated from this team and Walmart Distribution committed the donation of a forklift to Laurens High School to be used in this class, exposing and preparing 11th and 12th grade students for future careers in manufacturing.

The recipients were selected within a certain employment size and county development tier group.


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