By Mindy Lucas
A Charleston-based recycling company is moving the manufacturing arm of its glass division to northern Beaufort County and plans to create between 45 to 50 jobs in the process.
Glass WRX SC, a new company started by Fisher Recycling, will move into the 85,000 square-foot building at 302 Parker Drive, once occupied by manufacturer Parker Hannifin.
Founded by Chris Fisher in 1992, Fisher Recycling makes kitchen countertops and other hard surfaces for use in homes and businesses out of the recycled glass it collects from across South Carolina and Georgia.
The company also recycles such materials as aluminum, plastic, office paper and cardboard at its collection plant based in Charleston’s Naval Shipyard.
Fisher said he plans to renovate the Beaufort building and make it completely solar powered. The site will also have a showroom floor.
“The goal is to have all the equipment in by January 1, (of 2020),” he said.
The company plans to add 30 positions during its first year of operation and about 20 positions in its second year, for a total of 45 to 50 jobs. Those jobs will come with a starting pay of $18 an hour, he said.
The company is also looking to expand into air and water filtration systems, road surfaces and construction materials such as prefab interior walls – all made from recycled glass.
“There are lots of new and exciting things we can do with glass,” Fisher said.
Trying to find someone to fill the empty building off Trask Parkway has been in the works for more than a year, Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation executive director John O’Toole said.
The development group, which works to recruit companies to Beaufort, often works with the city and South Carolina’s Department of Commerce on tax-based incentive packages to make the area more attractive to potential businesses.
In addition, Beaufort has two “trump cards” that make it attractive for those looking to relocate or open a business here, he said.
“We have a quality of life that’s indisputable and the work force here in particular is a factor,” he said.
Increased congestion in areas such as Charleston and Summerville have also played a role in why manufacturers like Glass WRX SC are choosing to go elsewhere, he said.
Given that, the challenge, he said, is to “keep things within scale” so that it does not negatively impact Beaufort’s quality of life.
“I believe we project pretty clearly that we want companies that have a close loop system like this and aren’t going to adversely affect the environment,” he said. “And to have companies like (Glass WRX SC) that are going to improve the environment as well is a nice feather in our cap.”
Fisher has asked that the 37-acre property be annexed into the city so that the company can have access to city services and more favorable tax incentives, he said.
It is the only site within the Parker Drive industrial park not in the city, he added.
The company received preliminary approval from the Beaufort-Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission in July and hopes to receive final approval at the next city council meeting, Aug. 27.