The Upstate’s Growing Business Support SectorJuly 20, 2017
It’s no secret that the Upstate is growing – our population, our industrial presence, our food and retail scenes – they’re all on the rise.
Another growth area that’s been less explored is that of business services and other business support sectors staking a claim on the Upstate’s potential; these companies are deepening the pool of resources for larger businesses considering the area and for our hometown businesses seeking to grow.
Upstate SC Alliance often has the opportunity to explore relative newcomers to our market, providing insights into how industrial growth begets wider business opportunities. A small number of the support businesses who’ve recently entered or expanded their services within the Upstate shared their thoughts with us:
Staffing Up for Success
IK Hofmann, a woman-owned German staffing and recruiting firm founded in 1985, put down roots in the Upstate in 2008. With locations in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, England and seven cities across the Southeast, the company has more than 24,000 associates worldwide.
Velma Oliver, branch manager for Hofmann’s Upstate location, says that the strong presence of European companies in the Upstate was a deciding factor for its expansion here.
“The Greenville market has proven to be very successful for our company,” says Oliver. “We love being able to provide a high-quality service to our customers and help candidates find an employer to call home.”
Lending Hofmann to a larger market presence in South Carolina, Oliver says, is its distinctive multi-touch screening process that saves clients time and money in the sometimes-arduous recruitment process.
“Much of our approach,” she says, “involves a consultative partnership that helps our customers grow their business and increase revenues. More than that, we look to ease transitions and facilitate connections in every facet of our clients’ businesses.”
A German client expanded into the Upstate last month, Oliver explains, after earning a long-awaited contract to do business in the States; they realized quickly their company would need more help than initially anticipated. “There was an immediate need for temporary office space, connections with commercial and residential real estate agents, pointers on inter-cultural fluency, employment law advice and more.”
IK Hofmann helped their client get standard HR practices in place, lined up high-quality candidates (over a holiday weekend, no less!), met applicants personally, ran the company’s initial interviews and explained some subtle differences between German and American work culture.
“Our client’s CEO was amazed at the pace of our progress,” notes Oliver. “In Germany, he said, it would take months to get candidates of such quality. We were thrilled to expedite the process with our referral network, a few intercultural dos and don’ts and all of the other resources we brought to bear on their behalf.”
Managing the Business Community’s Growth
Upstate business needs extend beyond staffing into every facet of running a company – and that’s where support services like GreerWalker’s come into play. The certified public accounting firm specializes in the manufacturing and distribution, global business, real estate and construction sectors seeing significant growth across the Upstate; GreerWalker recently opened an office in Greenville.
Though new to operating an office in the Upstate, the firm has more than three decades of success in its original Charlotte market, as well as its investment banking, exit planning, merger and acquisition services and customized wealth planning via its corporate finance and wealth management affiliates.
Though GreerWalker’s downtown Greenville location only opened recently, the firm has served clients either headquartered in the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson metro areas or with operations in the Upstate since before 2000.
According to Director of Business Development Gunda Knese, in fact, GreerWalker expanded to the Upstate to meet a growing need for its services from existing clients within the business community. Additionally, a partner with deep roots and an alma mater in Greenville led the charge to expand here – and the business has hit the ground running.
This success is a credit, Knese says, to the “dynamic nature of the Upstate business community. We are fans of the type of smart growth we see throughout the area and see tremendous opportunity to help privately held middle-market companies, their owners and their executive teams thrive.”
Packaging the Upstate’s Handiwork
Another new Upstate company aims to make success easier for the region’s business community as well: Coastal Corrugated, a Charleston-based packaging solutions provider that entered the Greenville market a few years ago.
The company’s headquarters opened its doors in 1987, the first direct manufacturer of corrugated packaging in Charleston. Fulfilling customers’ high-quality packaging needs from concept through final delivery, Coastal Corrugated filled a distinctive niche and quickly found its client base spreading across the state.
Monitoring ever-changing product trends has driven the company to purchase newer, more efficient machinery, opening new horizons in packaging including plastic corrugated processing, triple wall conversion, contract packaging services, product fulfillment and repackaging ventures.
Jim Bozard, founder and chairman, says his company is in the packaging business for the long haul and understands that the best way to build its future on solid ground is by building better packages for its valued customers, wherever they are. For its automotive packaging in particular, Bozard and his team found that their clients were increasingly located in the Upstate.
“Our expectations have fallen short of the overwhelming reception we have received,” says Bozard. “There is a clear need for superior quality packaging that is delivered on time, and with the significant difference in our materials and service, we are poised to see success.”
The privately-owned family business has a variety of projects in the development stages, and credits its growth to a lean leadership team that can make big decisions without the hassle of a cross-country approval.
Expanding the Upstate
Van Winkle Construction, an Atlanta-based firm, recently expanded to Greenville. Currently building an expansion to Reliable Automatic Sprinkler in Pickens County, the company found in the Upstate a “growing economy, excellent workforce and a character that meshes with our own culture,” says Shane Hornbuckle, vice president and principal.
A third-generation construction firm founded in 1931, Van Winkle finds its main market sectors are industrial/manufacturing, religious facilities, private schools/universities and senior living; it has licenses in six states across the Southeast in addition to its Atlanta and Greenville offices.
Drawn to the Upstate by a strong group of subcontractors and a 60-year relationship with Lockheed Martin, Van Winkle found the recent announcements of production lines moving here to be the tipping point for its commitment to a Greenville expansion.
Hornbuckle notes that “the Upstate fits our corporate culture with a strong commitment to family, faith and business. We have found that the community is very receptive to us planting roots here, and we believe we will succeed with people who have a commitment to excellence, love construction and deep ties in the Upstate.”
Now 80 percent complete with the 150,000-square-foot expansion to Reliable Automatic Sprinkler, Van Winkle is on schedule and looking to open Phase I of the plant in September.
“Our responsibility goes beyond just building great buildings,” Hornbuckle says. “We connect to the communities where we work, and we see great things happening here.”
TOPICS: Business, Business Recruitment