DILLON, S.C. -- Harbor Freight Tools is significantly expanding its South Carolina presence with an approximately 1 million-square-foot expansion of its East Coast distribution facility in Dillon, bringing the national retailer's total footprint here to 3 million square-feet, the company and Dillon County announced today.
Already the region’s largest employer, the national tool retailer will nearly double its workforce, adding 500 to 600 new jobs in Dillon and bringing its total investment in South Carolina to more than $200 million.
“Since we opened our first facility here in 2001, the company has continued to grow and so has our need for a larger distribution center,” said Harbor Freight Founder and CEO Eric Smidt. “We’ve made an investment in Dillon, we’ve become part of the community, and we’re proud to expand our presence in this region.”
When Harbor Freight built its initial 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Dillon in 2001, the company had 106 stores nationwide. Now with more than 800 locations around the country—and continuing to open two new stores a week—the retailer required a larger distribution center to serve as its East Coast hub to receive and distribute products to more than 450 stores in 30 states.
This represents the third expansion of the company’s local distribution center. Harbor Freight doubled the size of its Dillon warehouse in 2006 and then doubled it again in 2014.
“Dillon County, along with leaders from Marion and Marlboro counties, were instrumental in our decision to continue to expand here,” Smidt said. “The administrations worked closely with us to meet the expanding requirements of our company, and they assembled a strong team including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Marlboro Electric Cooperative, the South Carolina Ports Authority and the NESA Regional Alliance, who all strive to deliver a business atmosphere that promotes success.”
The project is scheduled to break ground by the end of the year and is expected to be completed by early 2019.
“Dillon County is extremely fortunate to enjoy a continued relationship with such a progressive company as Harbor Freight. This announcement represents historical advancements for Dillon County and beyond,” said Rodney Berry, Dillon County administrator.
Added Archie Scott, chairman of the Dillon County Council, “Today’s announcement by Harbor Freight represents progress and opportunity for all citizens, and it is the perfect complement to all the other great things that are going on in economic development in our county.”
Gov. Henry McMaster has championed business expansion in the region and hailed news of this latest expansion.“Harbor Freight Tools’ continued investment in Dillon County and in our people is a testament to our approach to creating a competitive business environment where companies of all kinds can thrive,” said McMaster. “The 500 jobs this great company is creating will make a difference in the lives of South Carolinians, and for that, we couldn’t be more grateful.”
South Carolina State Sen. Kent Williams and State Rep. Jackie Hayes both applauded the announcement and noted the boost to the local workforce. Harbor Freight currently employs 650 people in positions ranging from warehouse stockers to managers, and it is expected to hire up to 600 more from Dillon, Marion, Marlboro and other surrounding counties.
“This announcement is a direct reflection of the commitment of Harbor Freight to our region,” Williams said. “For the past 16 years, this company has continued to invest and grow the economies of Dillon, Marion and Marlboro Counties. They have served as the anchor tenant for the Tri-County Industrial Park and continue to be a key player in its economic growth.”
“It is great to continue to see economic development activity increase in Dillon County,” said Hayes. “In a county that is beginning to see more growth, we are thankful for the continued investment and additional jobs that Harbor Freight Tools bring, which will significantly benefit our citizens.”
Marlboro Electric Cooperative and its wholly owned subsidiary Marlboro Development Team were integral partners attracting and negotiating this project. “We applaud Harbor Freight’s decision to expand again in Dillon County,” said William Fleming, Jr., president and CEO of Marlboro Electric and Marlboro Development Team. “Our board of trustees and employees work to improve the communities we serve, and we are excited about the continuing positive impact from our partnership with Harbor Freight Tools."
The S.C. Ports Authority worked closely with Harbor Freight to continue developing increased importing solutions to best serve the tool retailer’s needs. Harbor Freight will be the first company to utilize the South Carolina Inland Port of Dillon that is currently under construction in the same industrial park and is scheduled to be completed early next year.
The company continued to demonstrate its commitment to the Dillon County community when it recently invested more than $600,000 to rebuild the Henry Street Park in Latta, which had fallen into disrepair in recent years. The park, which reopened in June, was fully renovated and equipped with new basketball courts, a baseball field and new playground equipment.
Founded in 1977, Harbor Freight Tools is a family-owned national tool retailer based in Calabasas, California with more than 800 stores nationwide and two new stores opening every week, the company has over 40 million customers. Harbor Freight offers a large selection of quality tools at the lowest prices.