Steel maker to bring HQ and 139 jobs

Lancaster County’s already dominant manufacturing base is set to expand even further.
County and state officials announced Tuesday that Synergy Steel, based in Union County, N.C., will be moving its headquarters and metal fabrication facility to Lancaster over the coming months.
With its relocation, the company is expected to invest $2.8 million and create 139 jobs during the next three years, said Lancaster County Economic Development Director Jamie Gilbert, whose office landed the deal in a process begun last year under the code name “Project Wine.”
“Metal fabrication is one of our big industrial sectors, and it’s a strong one for us,” Gilbert said.
The county and the company are an ideal fit, he said. However, to close the deal, the county granted Synergy a tax and incentive package worth a combined $602,000 over the next 20 years, Gilbert added.
The state Commerce Department kicked in, as well, offering Synergy job development credits to relocate in the state, which drew praise from South Carolina’s chief executive.
“The 139 new jobs that Synergy Steel is bringing to Lancaster County will change the lives of South Carolinians, and for that, we couldn’t be more grateful,” said S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster.
“Manufacturing continues to be the largest employment sector for our residents, and the company will be a great addition…,” said Lancaster County Council Chairman Steve Harper.
The average hourly starting pay for the new positions at Synergy will be about $16.75, Gilbert said. Hiring is expected to begin sometime in the fourth quarter of 2018, which begins Oct. 1, though Gilbert said he believed hiring could begin immediately.
Once the jobs are available, interested applicants can apply online at
Gilbert said, over the next three years, the company expects to hire six engineers, six managers, 11 machine operators, 36 assemblers, 12 material handlers, 10 loaders, 12 drivers and 46 installers.
The company’s plan is to renovate and move into an existing building at 1312 Camp Creek Road near Lancaster’s downtown, in an area that is home to several other metal fabrication and machining plants.
The vacant 32,000- square-foot facility, previously home to Fab Fours, is situated on 11 acres and could easily be expanded another 30,000 square feet, if necessary, Gilbert said.
Fab Fours is an after-market producer of high-end truck bumpers and accessories that has since moved to Industrial Park Road.
Synergy will manufacture steel studs, engineered floor and roof trusses, and wall panels for the residential, industrial and commercial construction industries. The process will involve a series of roller machines that will produce the final product, which will then be panelized before leaving the facility on flatbed trucks, the company explained.
“We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the growing success of Lancaster County and look forward to being part of and giving back to the community,” Synergy’s Chief Operating Officer Al Iagnemma said in a release.
“This is exciting in terms of being just a fantastic manufacturing project for Lancaster,” Gilbert said. “We say it’s our bread and butter, our heart and soul, whatever you want to call it. It’s our core employment sector. Even with all the growth we’ve seen in corporate facilities, the majority of employment for our residents is still manufacturing.”
Manufacturing countywide accounted for 16 percent, or about 5,800 people, employed at last count, according to the Lancaster County Department of Economic Development.
Of those workers, 2,989 people were employed in production occupations, making it the third-largest occupation. Other industrial occupations include 1,608 employed in installation, maintenance and repair, and 1,042 employed in material moving.
“This kind of project is our sweet spot, in terms of size and magnitude. It’s an ideal fit for us,” Gilbert added. “I’ve always said, give me 10 companies employing 150 each… as opposed to one large manufacturer that may employ a thousand people who, if something goes wrong, they close and there goes all your jobs.”
Among its many benefits, the addition of Synergy to the county’s manufacturing base should offer job opportunities and help lessen the blow created by the impending closure of battery-maker Duracell, Gilbert said.
Layoffs at Duracell’s Lancaster plant began in January 2017 and will continue through the end of this year, resulting in the loss of about 300 manufacturing jobs.
“With Duracell closing at the end of the year just as (Synergy) ramps up, the timing’s pretty good,” Gilbert said. “I would think for some of them, looking at what they’re hiring for and the wage rates that might be paid, there could be some opportunities there.”

By Hal Millard, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News