GREENVILLE — After the economic downfall of 2008, companies specializing in skilled trades had a difficult time staying afloat.
But while many closed, Greenville Tool & Die was able to keep its head above water and is now reaping the benefits of a resurgent automotive industry with a $5.25 million expansion project.
“A lot of tool shops closed, but we didn’t,” said CEO Dale Hartway.
After a few years, the industry began to pick back up and automobile makers were trying to keep up with demand, and their competition.
“Sales have increased, I can’t put it any simpler,” Hartway said.
And, as sales spike, so does the need for makers to design new models.
“It has been the increase of car models in the automotive business and appliance,” Hartway said.
That means tool and die makers, which produce the tools and stamps used in creating car parts, are in high demand.
“The number of models being created means more dies are needed,” Hartway said. “We survived it and we were out there with experience (when things turned around).”
For the past three years, business has been so good, Greenville Tool & Die has out of necessity opted to expand its operations in order to keep up with the growing demand.
The $5.25-million project includes a 15,000 square foot, $2-million addition and more than $3 million in new equipment. The addition will house a new large bridge mill, which is designed to help form roofs of cars, and a 2,000 ton capacity stamping press.
“We need this additional equipment to produce and react to their needs,” said President Larry Caverley.
The rest of the space in the large addition will be used for assembly and trying dies.
And the project will lead to more jobs too, officials said.
“I think it’s safe to say in the next three to four years we will see employment growth from 10 to 15 people,” Caverley said.
A portion of those hires will likely be from the company’s co-op program, which includes students from area high schools.
Officials said students have proven their abilities and have shown they can be successful additions to the company.
“Their work ethic shows we think they can succeed and we’d like to add them to our apprentice program,” Hartway said.
Caverley said it is hoped the project, which began last December, will be completed by late July.
“We’re happy because we’re still here and successful and hopefully providing jobs for the community,” he said.