Metal-Molding Briteline Extrusions Adding 10,000 Square Feet to Its Dorchester County Warehouse

Charleston, South Carolina

January 12, 2011 - The bulldozers and heavy construction machinery that rumble behind a Dorchester County warehouse represent an economic victory for the manufacturing company that operates inside.

After a decade of attempts, Briteline Extrusions, Inc. is spending $1.1 million to expand its 95,000-square-foot operation in Summerville's outskirts.  The metal-molding plant, which employs 75 workers, will be able to turn out more strips of aluminum after the company installs a new machine in the bigger building.

The company's plan to add 10,000 square feet of space to the warehouse hit a series of unfortunate roadblocks, said Ed Kabine, vice president of manufacturing.

"We've tried it about three times, and it's either China coming in and taking orders from us or the economy shooting a hole in our foot," Kabine said.

Briteline workers make strips of coated aluminum that are wrapped around shower doors. The company also makes picture frames and the edging that holds jewelry display cases together.

At the Beech Hill Road factory, workers feed long, circular poles of aluminum into powerful machinery that shapes it. Briteline's newest piece of equipment, which likely will begin operating this summer, will allow the plant to produce longer metal strips and boost its productivity.

The company won't need additional workers once the expansion is completed.

"It's about handling," Kabine said. "You can run more footage per hour than you can now."

Company workers also use a chemical process to coat the metal, giving it color and added protection.

Most of the product doesn't stay in the Lowcountry. Most is shipped to manufacturers throughout the Southeast.

Some of those factories place bigger orders with cheaper, overseas firms, but Kabine said that U.S. companies still buy from Briteline because of the company's quality and service.

"When they have customers breathing down their neck and you have containers falling off the ship in the middle of the Atlantic, they'll come knocking at our door," he said.

Reach Katy Stech at 937-5549.