Swiss Company Continues to Invest in Rural South Carolina

Published by Mark O’Meara on Thursday, February 7, 2019

SWISS KRONO Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of wood-based materials, continues to invest in rural Barnwell, S.C.

The Swiss-based company is building a 250,000-square-foot expansion on its existing Barnwell manufacturing facility, with help from the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program.

The expansion includes the construction of a new medium-density fiberboard (MDF) manufacturing line, ancillary wood yard, energy plant and waste treatment facilities, as well as the installation of a fourth laminate flooring line. With this expansion, the plant will produce laminate flooring, MDF, high-density fiberboard (HDF), laminated panels for the furniture industry and treated papers for use in laminate applications. Currently, the facility only produces laminate flooring and treated paper.

“The purpose for the expansion was for backward integration, which will allow SWISS KRONO USA to produce the board currently purchased for manufacturing laminate flooring (reduction in costs) and to move into new markets,” said Robert Dichiara, vice president and chief financial officer of SWISS KRONO USA. “Our plan is to increase our market share of laminate flooring sold in the U.S. at the expense of imports. … Two-thirds of our new high density/medium density panel production will be used in our existing flooring operations and one-third will be sold into furniture manufacturing, automotive, cabinet and other applications.”

Deborah La Franchi, president of the National New Markets Fund, said the expansion is expected to create 105 new permanent jobs and 500 construction jobs. She added that the permanent jobs will have an average salary of $56,000 per year with health insurance and 401(k) matching funds.

“In 2015, [Barnwell County] had the eighth-lowest average weekly wages in South Carolina, the quality of the jobs being created was very important in our decision to invest,” said La Franchi. National New Markets Fund is one of four community development entities (CDEs) providing a NMTC allocation to this development.

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