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Columbia Business Monthly

Monthly Musings on South Carolina's Business Community

Jul 02, 2024 10:19AM ● By David Dykes

Monthly musings on Clarios breaking ground on $16M expansion of battery components plant in West Union, DP3 Architects celebrates 40 years in business, Lancaster County earns six National Achievement awards, Furman women’s basketball.

Clarios, producer of one in three of the world’s car batteries, broke ground in June on a $16 million expansion of its manufacturing plant in Oconee County, South Carolina. Officials said the expansion allows Clarios to increase production of components for absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries, an advanced technology for modern low-voltage batteries needed to support a wide array of vehicle entertainment and safety features that require constant, on-demand power availability.

Clarios produces more than 150 million low-voltage batteries for the mobility industry each year at manufacturing and distribution facilities throughout the world, including 16 in the U.S. 

In South Carolina, its operations include the Oconee County manufacturing plant, which is adding 12 new jobs. The company also operates a distribution center in Florence County.

“Clarios is proud to be a part of South Carolina’s automotive sector, a globally recognized manufacturing hub for high-performance vehicles and their advanced components,” said Gerardo Gonzalez Aleu, Clarios president of U.S. and Canada. “South Carolina provides a strong base of highly trained, skilled and knowledgeable workers.”

The 9,000-square-foot expansion in Oconee County will include infrastructure improvements and new, high-tech molding and assembly equipment to increase production of important components for AGM batteries at Clarios’ plant at 1204 Old Walhalla Highway in West Union.

“The company’s investment and new jobs represent increased opportunities for Oconee County and reinforce that South Carolina is a place where businesses can prosper,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. 

Automakers are continuously enhancing safety, fuel efficiency, and entertainment features, which collectively increase and diversify electrical loads. Modern vehicles, equipped with technologies such as lane-keeping assist, side blind zone alerts, engine start-stop cycling, adaptive cruise control, and advanced infotainment systems, place significant demands on their power sources. 

Officials said Clarios 12-volt AGM batteries offer the stability and flexibility required to manage these electrical needs effectively.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) choose Clarios AGM batteries to reliably handle the demanding loads encountered under various driving patterns and applications, the officials said. 

They said that as vehicles continue to feature increasing content and electrical demand, Clarios AGM batteries will continue to provide the power required for consistent performance of those features. It is important to note that every type of car, whether it has a combustion engine, is a hybrid, or is an electric vehicle, needs at least one low-voltage battery, the officials said. 

Oconee expansion operations are expected to be online in January 2025. 

Clarios is a subsidiary of Brookfield Business Partners, a business services and industrials company focused on owning and operating high-quality businesses that benefit from barriers to entry and/or low production costs. Brookfield Business Partners is listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges (NYSE: BBU) (TSX: BBU.UN).

40 years in business

DP3 Architects celebrates 40 years in business this year. What began as a venture by three classmates from Clemson University has grown into one of the most well-respected architecture firms in South Carolina.

The firm recently was named the “Best Architecture Firm in South Carolina” by the Greenville Business Magazine.

In 1984, Mark S. Eggl, Samuel D. Justice, and J. Michael Taylor established Design Partnership, crafting their earliest designs in the confines of a basement, quickly gaining a reputation in the community for impeccable service to their clients, as well as designing buildings that were not only beautiful but functional and efficient. 

Some of the firm’s early projects included: 

·        Clemson University Hardin Hall Renovation

·        Mauldin Sports Center

·        Simpsonville Activity and Senior Center

·        Greenville County Camp Spearhead

·        Sirrine Stadium Restoration in Greenville, South Carolina.

Design Partnership navigated many changes, including a name change to DP3 Architects in 2003 and the transition to its second generation of leadership. Today, the firm is led by Mike Pry, Meg Terry, Brian Thomas, and Ben Urueta. They said in a news release that while evolution is inevitable, what has remained constant is DP3 Architects’ commitment to providing unique architecture, interior design, and planning services that ensure clients’ spaces not only meet their needs but also ignite a greater quality of life. 

Throughout the years, DP3 Architects has developed an extensive portfolio spanning across their four verticals: community, higher education, hospitality, and interiors. Notable projects include: 

·        The City of Greenville Public Works Campus

·        Hale’s Jewelers

·        Travelers Rest Municipal Campus

·        City of Easley Fire Station Headquarters

·        Scoundrel restaurant in Greenville

·        Cartwright Food Hall in Greer, South Carolina

·        Anderson University Student Center

·        Clemson University Doug Kingsmore Player Development Center

·        Rupert Huse Veteran Center in Greenville

·        The Sumerel Office Building at Legacy Square in Greenville

·        Wells Fargo Center Renovation in Greenville.

“Our longevity as a firm is a testament to the past and current leadership, the talent of our people, and our ability to continue to evolve in the profession of architecture and design,” said Terry, principal and CMO. “As we commemorate this milestone, we honor not only our past achievements but also the unwavering commitment to our clients and of every member of our team, whose passion and expertise continue to shape the spaces that inspire and endure." 

Lancaster County Recognized

Lancaster County has been recognized with six 2024 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.  

Each year, NACo’s Achievement Awards recognize outstanding programming in 18 categories aligned with the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, libraries, management, information technology, health, civic engagement, and more. 

Launched in 1970, the program is designed to celebrate innovation in county government. Each nominated program is judged on its own merits and not against other applications.  

The awards recognize these Lancaster County Programs: 

Lancaster County Library Seed Program is a collaboration between the Lancaster County Library and the Lancaster County Water & Soul Conservation District (LCWSCD), which aims to promote sustainable gardening practices, educate the community on growing food and flowers, and enhance  nutrition.  

Student Mock County Council Meeting: Fostering Civic Engagement: This program is an immersive educational simulation designed to engage students in civic affairs and develop essential skills for democratic participation. It also aims to empower students to become informed, active citizens capable of contributing positively to their communities. 

The Sixth Circuit Veterans Court presents a unique diversion program tailored for military veteran offenders with qualifying criminal charges. Departing from the conventional criminal justice system, this program offers a personalized approach to address the multifaceted needs of each participating veteran.  

The Lancaster County Civics 101 Course offers residents an immersive exploration into the inner workings of their community’s government. Through dynamic sessions led by county administrators, County Council, and department directors, participants gain invaluable insights into the functions and impact of county departments.  

The “Day in the Life” video aims to humanize deputies and highlight success stories of citizens in Lancaster County, for in-house use. The video’s goal is to boost morale among deputies, reinforce their sense of purpose, and cultivate a positive work environment within the Sherriff’s Office. 

Implementing GIS to Meet the Needs of a Growing County: Lancaster County has used GIS software and tools since the early 2000s. Recently, the county has committed to define, design, and deliver an organized, shared geospatial-centric information infrastructure that enables the county to manage data and resources using a cost-effective, countywide enterprise approach.  

“The Achievement Awards recognize excellence in county government and effective public service,” said NACo President Mary Jo McGuire. “This year’s winners have delivered results for our residents and demonstrated innovative efforts to strengthen our communities.” 

"Earning six national awards is a testament to the dedication, hard work, and the pursuit of excellence by the staff and county council while strengthening services for our residents,” said County Administrator Dennis Marstall. 

New assistant coach

Furman women’s basketball coach Pierre Curtis in June announced the hiring of Samantha Michel as an assistant coach and the program’s director of operations and the new title of director of program engagement for current staff member Grace van Rij.

“Samantha comes highly recommended from her time at VCU and Utah,” Curtis said. “Her energy and passion for the game are evident from the moment she steps into the room. She will have a tremendous impact on our program.”

Curtis added, “Grace has been such a big part of our family for the past six years, and I’m excited we get to keep her in the program. She will help take us to another level in the community and through our social media.”

Michel joins the Paladin staff after serving as a graduate assistant coach at VCU for the 2023-24 season, where she helped the Rams to the winningest campaign in program history — a 26-6 mark and invitation to the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament (WBIT).

Prior to her stint at VCU she spent the 2022-23 year as creative director for marketing and recruiting for the University of Utah women’s basketball program.

Michel’s four-year collegiate playing career included her freshman and sophomore seasons at Northeastern and junior and senior years at Anderson (South Carolina).

As a junior at Anderson, she was named second team All-South Atlantic Conference (SAC) and conference defensive player of the year.

She interned in 2020 with the WNBA through its “PassThaBall” campaign, creating content for social media accounts and planning brand events such as the “Who’s NXT” Jordan All-Star games.

Following her senior season she was selected to participate in the WBCA “So You Want To Be A Coach” program, a two-day workshop during the WBCA Convention and Final Four.

A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Michel secured her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and digital media studies from Anderson in 2021 and added a master’s in organizational leadership, also from Anderson, in 2022.

Van Rij has served Furman’s women’s basketball program in three roles during her tenure at the university — as a decorated player, graduate assistant coach, and now as director of program engagement.

In uniform, the Knoxville, Tennessee, native played in 139 games, lettered all five years, and was twice selected team captain and All-Southern Conference, including her final campaign that saw her average 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. She averaged 10.0 ppg during the 2021-22 season while helping Furman to its first 20-win campaign in over two decades.  Her .502 career field goal percentage ranks seventh in Furman history.

A four-time SoCon All-Academic Team pick and five-time SoCon Academic Honor Roll selection, van Rij graduated cum laude in 2022 with a degree in communication studies and earlier this year was accorded a Master of Art in strategic design, also from Furman.