Change in Leadership for Ridgeville Industry


December 15, 2015
Contact: Lindsey Culley
Community Development & Marketing Manager

Phone: (843) 875-9109 or (843) 259-4778 

Change in Leadership at Showa Denko Carbon, Inc.

Summerville, S.C. -- On December 31, 2015, Robert “Bob” Whitten, will step down as President and CEO of Showa Denko Carbon, Inc. Whitten acquired this position in April of 2005, leading a major expansion in Dorchester County, of which is near completion. He will relocate to Tokyo, Japan and continue to serve as a Corporate Officer of SDKK, the parent company of SDKC. He will also join SDKK’s management committee, a decision-making body, and serve as an assistant to the President and CEO of SDKK in charge of global marketing. “Negative market forces brought about largely by excessive steel exports from China are causing severe stress in the steel and graphite electrode industries. This in turn has resulted in very challenging business conditions for SDKC.  In response, we are doing all we can to improve our cost structure.”- Whitten

As of January 1, 2015, Carl D. Kolts will take the position of President & CEO at SDKC, leaving his current position as Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Carl joined SDKC in December 2013, with over 30 years of experience in the graphite electrode (GE) business in various sales and operations roles. Kolts also helped with the commercial launch of VEXTEC Corporation, an early stage engineering and software company specializing in predictive analytics prior to joining SDKC. Kolts says, “Showa Denko has been very successful over the last ten years under Bob Whitten’s leadership. On behalf of all our colleagues I thank him for his tireless effort and wish him continued success in his new position.”

Whitten says, “I hope that most of the difficult aspects of our cost reduction program will have been accomplished before my successor assumes his duties. It may take some time, but we are confident that Carl Kolts will lead the company to renewed prosperity.  Fortunately, we expect the leadership change at SDKC to be seamless.  Our new CEO has many years of graphite electrode business experience and he is a highly capable senior executive. Carl is also interested in continuing our tradition of active community service.”

Kolts stated “These are challenging times for SDKC. To manage through these conditions we will have to drive operational costs down throughout the organization. While Showa Denko has a good cost structure today, we must achieve further productivity improvements to drive our operational excellence to the next level. While the next few years will be challenging, we have a strong, dedicated team at Showa Denko Carbon and I am looking forward to helping us continue to be a successful company and good corporate citizen within the local community.”


About Showa Denko Carbon Inc.

Showa Denko Carbon, Inc. operates a fully-integrated graphite manufacturing plant near Ridgeville, South Carolina. The company is part of the Inorganics Sector of Japan-based Showa Denko KK, one of Japan’s leading chemical companies operating in five major segments including petrochemicals, chemicals, electronics, inorganics and aluminum. Along with its sister plant in Omachi, Japan, Showa Denko Carbon, Inc. is a principal supplier of graphite electrodes to the global electric arc furnace steel industry. For more information about the company, please visit