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
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.