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Updated: Orangeburg building boom: Development shows ‘there is a lot going on’ locally

The old Kmart building on Chestnut Street has been vacant since August 2016. It is expected to reopen next year as an Ollie’s Bargain Basement, Badcock Home Furnishings and more.

“There is nothing happening in Orangeburg.”

That is just not accurate, Orangeburg County economic development and business leaders say of comparisons between Orangeburg and other locales.

Leaders say it is particularly inaccurate at the moment, pointing to a number of ongoing projects in the area such as a new grocery store, a new bank, a new discount store, a retail strip mall as well as land-clearing projects for future potential development.

“There is a lot going on,” Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said. “We are back with the commercial activity and the economy is responding well. It is an overall indication of better employment and opportunities from a manufacturing perspective and commercial follows suit.”

Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President Melinda Jackson said the number of projects in and around Orangeburg are a positive for the area.

“Competition keeps us all on our feet and can be quite healthy,” she said. “The new bank will surely be a showpiece and the grocery store couldn’t be in a more prime location.”

“It’s a great time to live in a small town,” Jackson said. “Not only are we growing in new business developments, but we are also growing in collaborative efforts.”

Jackson cited a renewed understanding of the need to work together for the betterment of the county and its municipalities.

“One Orangeburg is growing stronger in numbers and our education entities are pulling together to share great successes and real solutions for progress,” she said. “It’s a great time to be in Orangeburg County and an even greater time to be a part of the chamber!”

North Road project

About 60 acres of land has been cleared for future development.

Fort Motte Partners, a partnership of Century 21 The Moore Group and C.F. Evans Construction, is working to develop the 62-acre tract adjacent to the North Road Walmart.

The development is expected to include restaurants, retail outlets, an entertainment complex with possible movie theater, as well as a hotel and residential areas.

Green space to include walking paths, ponds and open spaces is also planned.

“We have had a good bit of interest,” Century 21 The Moore Group President Marion Moore said. “We are so far behind because of weather getting the permitting done. We are looking at the end of April to get the final engineering permits in place. We were hoping to done by the end of January.”

Through the middle of February, Moore said work was being done on the road and additional shaping and land clearing is also in the works.

“We are going at it as hard as we can,” Moore said. “We are moving on it but it is a slow mover.”

Construction on the property was to begin around the middle of 2006 but because of the economic downturn, development plans were put on hold. The target date was pushed into 2009 or possibly 2010.

By September 2016, the property remained untouched. Then that all changed. Crews spent several weeks in October felling trees on the property.

In order to maintain the uniqueness of the property, the magnolia trees will be preserved. The name of the property, which was formerly owned by the Wannamaker family from which the magnolia tree had its origins, will most likely be Magnolia Village.

Currently, the work being done is focused on infrastructure such as roads, sewer, water, engineering and traffic.

Construction on retail will begin by early 2018.

The project will coincide and tie in with the city’s plans to build a recreational center behind Orangeburg Preparatory School.


German discount grocery chain Lidl is constructing a new store on North Road next to Sonic.

The company, a division of German retailer Schwarz Group, is building an approximately 36,000-square-foot standalone store.

As of mid-February, Lidl has not announced the Orangeburg store’s opening date.

The company announced in May 2016 it plans to open stores in South Carolina, including Orangeburg, no later than 2018. It is the store’s first entry into the U.S. market.

The grocer chose the area due to its high traffic, dense population and established retail locations.

Lidl will sell products with its own store label and offer fresh breads, produce and meat. In addition to groceries, the chain offers discounts on household appliances, clothes and furniture.

A typical Lidl store has between 30 and 35 employees.

The arrival of Lidl comes on the heels of another German grocery store, Aldi, which opened on Orangeburg’s North Road in March 2015.

Some news reports have likened Lidl to a cross between Walmart and California-based Trader Joe’s.

The chain also has plans for two other stores in the Midlands — one in Columbia and the other in Lexington.

Kmart/Reid’s redevelopment

Plans are in place to redevelop the former Orangeburg Chestnut Street Kmart and Reid’s buildings and property for new retail and dining establishments.

Grand Oak Realty LLC is seeking to develop the 85,000-square-foot Kmart building by subdividing it into three units to include a big-box retailer and grocery stores. Each unit would be from 31,000 to 48,000 square feet.

There are also plans to develop two standalone parcels — about 4,800 square feet and 6,000 square feet — on the front portion of the property to include small retail and dining space.

Plans are to begin construction by the first quarter of 2017, with opening by the second quarter of next year.

Grand Oak Realty Principal Brandon Graham said the property has received two letters of intent from retailers and lease agreements have been worked on but he does not have “express consent or liberty to disclose who they are.”

The plans to develop the Reid’s property may prove more challenging as the lease on the building does not expire until 2024. The former 40,000-square-foot grocery store is under lease by Bi-Lo Holdings LLC, which purchased Reid’s in 2013. The Orangeburg Reid’s closed in 2014.

Through the middle of February, project developers and property owners were still working on possible arrangements to develop the property either through a sublease or property purchase.

The entire property is seen as ideal for a shopping center, theater or even a call center.

The city would be responsible for any connection fees and business licensing.

The two properties are owned by a Columbia-based trust DWB Orangeburg LLC Interprop Inc. and DWB Orangeburg-Reids LLC.

Graham said the development would be self-funded by the ownership entity.

The Kmart store at 1470 Chestnut St. closed in early August 2016. Kmart had a presence in Orangeburg since October 1972.

GrandSouth Bank

GrandSouth Bank is constructing a branch at 1055 St. Matthews Road next to Orangeburg Mall.

A temporary bank is located at the same site until the standalone bank opens. The land is the former site of United Hospice of the Midlands. The building was torn down earlier in 2016.

Through the middle of February, the building’s plumbing and electricity have been completed and the roof was being installed.

The 4,600-square-foot bank is expected to be open by late April or early May 2017.

Veteran Orangeburg bankers Allen Fairey and Michael Delaney, formerly of First Citizens Bank, both partnered in opening the bank.

Fairey serves as the bank’s senior vice president and relationship manager and Delaney serves as the bank’s senior vice president and market president.

When fully operational, GrandSouth will have 11 employees.

The bank will focus on the customer, customer service and taking care of the people when they walk in the door.

When completed, the bank building will have a three-bay drive-through. GrandSouth will not have an automatic teller machine, but customers can utilize other bank ATMs without paying a fee.

Greenville-based GrandSouth bank has branches in Greenville, Fountain Inn, Anderson and Greer. The bank is also in the process of opening a branch in Columbia.

The bank employs 136 people.

GrandSouth Bancorporation, the parent company, was founded in 1987.

St. Matthews Road strip mall

Heavy equipment was moving dirt on St. Matthews Road in preparation for the construction of a shopping strip mall, according to an Orangeburg building permit.

The land being cleared is at the corner of St. Matthews Road and Nelson Street next to the Walgreens and across the street from Grove Park shopping plaza.

The address of the vacant 15-acre property is 1580 St. Matthews Road.

The owner of the land is J&P Venture Group LLC with the registered agent named Man Suk Ha, according to South Carolina Secretary of State and county property records.

Attempts to reach the registered agent with the company were unsuccessful.

The building permit is from Dec. 16, 2016, to June 16, 2017. KG Contracting Company is the project contractor.

Sources close to the project say there are no specific retailers in place for the strip mall.

Dollar Tree opens

Dollar Tree opened its doors Feb. 9 at 1270 John C. Calhoun Drive.

The Dollar Tree is located at the former site of the Southland Restaurant across from Subway.

Dollar Tree carries items from housewares to party supplies. All items are $1 or less.

It will be the second Dollar Tree to open in Orangeburg. The other is on North Road near IHOP. There is also a Dollar Tree in Bamberg.

Virginia-based Dollar Tree, a Fortune 500 company, operates more than 14,000 stores across 48 states and five Canadian provinces. Stores operate under the brands of Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree Canada.

Former Prince of Orange Mall Sears

Work is underway at the former Sears in the Prince of Orange Mall.

The space is being prepared for potential tenants, though none has been announced.

The mall is owned by Hull Property Group, which was formerly Hull Storey Gibson.

Sears Holdings, which is also the parent company of Kmart, announced in 2012 that it was closing about 120 stores across the nation, including Orangeburg’s Sears. The local store closed in May 2013.

Recycling company to invest $52 million, create 200 jobs in Orangeburg County

Ecomelida officials celebrate the company’s arrival in Orangeburg County during a Wednesday gathering at the Orangeburg Country Club.


A Chinese recycling company is planning to invest $52 million and create 200 new jobs over the next five years in Orangeburg County.

Ecomelida Inc. will locate in the 200,350-square-foot former Federal Mogul Friction Products plant at 2084 Rowesville Road.

Ecomelida is the U.S. subsidiary of Zhangzhou Sanlida Environmental Technology Corporation, an importer and recycler of waste paper and plastic.

The company will separate pulp, plastic and aluminum from soft drink cartons and other products for use in products such as tissue paper, plastic flowers, coated plastic products and clothes hangers.

Plant operations are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018. Hiring for the positions will begin in the third quarter of 2018.

The company will be looking to fill professional, managerial and skilled positions. Entry-level wages will average $15 to $18. Managerial wages will be above $20 an hour.

Ecomelida Madam Chairman Nancy Xi Cheng said the company will seek to recycle soft drink and juice containers.

“We are dealing with soft drinks because you know everyone every day needs a soft drink,” Cheng said. “When they are finish drinking, they just throw them away. In fact, they have a special kind of material which causes a lot of pollution.”

“I think we are the first company that is dealing with that special kind of material,” Cheng continued. “I think it is very good for the environment.”

This will be the company’s first U.S plant and will serve as its U.S. headquarters.

County officials welcomed the company Wednesday evening during a reception at the Orangeburg Country Club.

Cheng and company Executive Vice President Yang Huang praised the county and city’s pro-business attitude and its transportation infrastructure. The site has rail access.

Huang noted the community’s “friendly business atmosphere” and the “sporty government officials.”

“I think there are a lot of benefits we can enjoy here,” he said.

The company also plans to expand the former Federal Mogul building by 496,600 square feet. The plant sits on about 44 acres.

Huang said the company looked at a number of other states before settling on South Carolina and Orangeburg.

“I still am very impressed at how the efficient the state of South Carolina, the county and the city work,” he said.

The company has received local property tax incentives as well as state incentives.

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to the project.

A $750,000 Rural Infrastructure Fund grant was awarded to Orangeburg County to assist with the cost of site preparation and building construction. The grant will primarily go toward upgrading the facility’s utility infrastructure, including water, wastewater and electrical delivery systems.

Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said Ecomelida was initially attracted to the John W. Matthews Jr. speculative building.

“You never know where leads will come from,” Robinson said.

Robinson praised the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities for making the project happen.

The official signing of the company’s agreement to locate in the county occurred Thursday.

“We want you to know that we are very user friendly,” Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright told company officials Wednesday evening. “We will do all we can to make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible.”

“We want you to succeed because if you succeed, that means we succeed,” Wright continued. “We want all of us to make sure that this marriage works. We don’t like divorces.”

“Today is our first day that we are married and I say ‘Yes, I do,’” Cheng said, to laughter.

“We are very much committed to building high-quality, skilled labor,” Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said. “We are committed to building a robust economy to develop the skilled labor. We are so happy that you are here.”

Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said, “Ecomelida will not only provide jobs for our citizens, but also play a role in saving our planet.”

S.C. Department of Commerce Senior Project Manager Wally Wang described the announcement as a milestone project.

“Starting today, Ecomelida is not only a customer of ours, but it is a part of the family,” Wang said. “Welcome family member.”

“We now have a wonderful new blended family to seek success together,” Orangeburg County Development Commission Chairman Kenneth Middleton said. “You have invested in us and it is our plan to invest in you.”

The announcement received statewide praise.

“Any time another company chooses to call South Carolina home, it’s a testament to our great workforce and business-friendly environment,” Gov. Henry McMaster said. “The 200 jobs they’re bringing to Orangeburg County will be a tremendous, positive impact to that community.”

“Foreign direct investment continues to play an important role in supporting South Carolina’s diverse economy,” S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said. “Ecomelida’s new investment in Orangeburg County is a milestone for this community, and we’re excited to see what the future has in store for this innovative company.”

S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome welcomed the company.

“With the port’s big-ship handling abilities and weekly Asia services, we look forward to serving their export needs,” he said.

The facility has been vacant since Federal Mogul closed its doors in May 2016. The Federal-Mogul plant manufactured brake pads.

Prior to Federal Mogul, the building was occupied by Kirsch Window Treatments, which produced custom mini-blinds, vertical blinds, pleated shades and window toppers.

According to county property records, Ecomelida paid about $2.5 million for the facility.

Ecomelida has plants in Spain and Taiwan. Its headquarters is in Xiamen, China. Companywide, Ecomelida employs about 300.

For more information about job opportunities at the Orangeburg County plant,

Wood pallet, crating manufacturer to invest $1.3 million, create 28 jobs at Holly Hill plant

Tree Brand Packaging Inc.

A manufacturer of wood pallets, skids and specialty crating is locating operations in Holly Hill.

Charlotte-based Tree Brand Packaging Inc. announced Wednesday it is investing $1.3 million and creating 28 new jobs.

Many of the jobs are expected to be above the county’s average manufacturing wage of $15 an hour.

The company is locating on about 12 acres at the intersection of Old State Road and Bunch Ford Road. Operations are expected to begin as soon as possible.

The 18,400-square-foot facility once housed utility pole manufacturer Pennington Crossarm Company.

Tree Brand acquired the property from Pennington for about $750,000, according to Orangeburg County property records.

“Being closer to our customers in South Carolina is an important part of our strategic growth,” Tree Brand Packaging President Chris Helms said in a press release.

“In addition to customers, South Carolina offers a healthy and robust forest sector that is an important part of our growth strategy. We are excited to be manufacturing in South Carolina, a great place to live and work,” he said.

Orangeburg County has provided the company with the multi-county industrial park and fee-in-lieu of taxes incentives.

A multi-county industrial park is a mechanism designed to provide an industry with additional incentives. There is no physical park.

Tree Brand Packaging is a family-owned manufacturer and custom services provider operating in the southeastern U.S.

The company has more than 20 years of packaging experience, providing a variety of custom pallets, skids, crates and packaging.

“Orangeburg County welcomes Tree Brand Packaging to eastern Orangeburg as another solid employer to our community,” Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright said. “We are grateful of their investment in our growing community and our residents.”

Holly Hill Mayor William Johnson praised the announcement. Johnson is a member of the Orangeburg County Development Commission’s executive committee.

“We are strengthened by the capital investment and increase in opportunities for quality new jobs that a project like this brings to the greater Holly Hill area,” Johnson said. “We look forward to working with the company in the years to come.”

The company’s arrival received praise statewide.

“Tree Brand Packaging’s expansion into the Palmetto State reflects its confidence in our state’s healthy, abundant and resilient forest resource,” S.C. State Forester Scott Phillips said. “The company is joining a very strong network of more than 700 secondary forest product manufacturers in South Carolina, each one strengthening the supply chain that supports our state’s $20 billion forest products industry.”

Gov. Henry McMaster said, “South Carolina is full of talented people, and that’s why we know a company like Tree Brand Packaging can succeed here.

“This is the beginning of what we know will be a long partnership between our state and this fantastic company.”

“South Carolina continues to see its manufacturing and forestry sectors grow and create jobs,” Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said. “Tree Brand Packaging’s new investment builds on our state’s success in those sectors and strengthens our global reputation.”

Tree Brand Packaging was founded in the Charlotte area in 1990 by Al Helms, a retired plant manager for a steel company.

In March 2003, Tree Brand established a second manufacturing and service location in Chattanooga, Tenn. and has most recently expanded in the Atlanta area.

For more information on Tree Brand Packaging, visit the company’s website at

Honorees ’embody what we hope for in the future’

Bowman Sen. John Matthews, left, is presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Orangeburg County Business Hall of Fame Banquet. Making the presentation is Jim Roquemore.

The C.F. Evans story begins in the years following World War II when Clarence Felder Evans, an Army veteran, joined his cousin, Fred Evans, to learn as much as he could about construction.

Buoyed by the baby boom, their company, Evans Construction, fielded requests from families seeking to build homes of their own in Orangeburg, Holly Hill, Aiken and other South Carolina communities.

The growing company at that time provided quality craftsmanship, hired and supervised talented employees, and encouraged a sense of pride in their work that is still present today.

While Clarence Evans passed away in March 2010, the company he founded continues to thrive.

Today, C.F. Evans has grown all over the Southeast, employs 70 and has received both state and national recognition.

For his legacy and impact on the Orangeburg business community, Evans was one of four men (and the only one recognized posthumously) honored Thursday night at the Orangeburg Country Club for their contributions to Orangeburg County’s economic development and community enrichment.

Evans — along with Creston native Luther “Luke” C. Kissam IV, chairman, chief operating officer and president of Albemarle Corp.; and Danny Mixon, owner of Mixon Seed Company, Inc. — were inducted into the Orangeburg County Business Hall of Fame.

Sen. John W. Matthews Jr., D-Bowman, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Orangeburg County Economic Development Partnership held the event.

Complete with fine foods and fine wines, the event was also filled with laudatory and sometimes humorous tales of the night’s honorees. Past stories of fishing and hunting were interspersed with accolade bestowals, including praises of visionary leadership, integrity and hard work.

Johnny Evans, current C.F. Evans president and CEO, says the recognition for his father is “well deserved” and quite an honor.

“He was very active in the community not only in Orangeburg but in Calhoun,” Johnny said. “He did a lot behind the scenes for people that not everyone knew about. That is just the way he was.”

He once said that he only needed one bed to sleep in and one plate of food to eat, so he felt compelled throughout his life to give and do whatever he could to help those in need.

Upon receiving the award, Mixon described it as one of the “greatest honors I have ever had.

“I am very overwhelmed but under-deserved,” he said. “There are a lot more people here that deserve it. It is hard to believe I am on the same plane that some of the people who already got it.”

Kissam, who downplayed his importance accepting the award on behalf of Albemarle, said the honor was especially sweet due to its source.

“Any time you are being recognized in your hometown means a lot because all of these people in Orangeburg are so integral to what I was able to do,” Kissam said. “It forms the core of my values, the core of my beliefs. To me it means a great deal.”

Kissam said the first job he had was with C.F. Evans Construction. He cited the irony of that fact now.

“To be able to go in with someone that I admired and love like Mr. Clarence is almost unbelievable to me,” Kissam said. “It is almost embarrassing because I just don’t feel like maybe let’s wait a little while to see how the game plays out because we are still dealing cards right now.”

Matthews said the honor is humbling.

“I did not expect it, but I try to do those things that are in the best interest of this county and to improve economic development and education,” he said. “I have been doing that for 42 years and I will continue to do that.”

The awards were presented by the OCDP, a public/private partnership focused on assisting the Orangeburg County Development Commission in development.

The criteria for selection into the Orangeburg County Business Hall of Fame includes: the significance of the impact made as a business leader, the concern demonstrated for improving the Orangeburg community and the display of ethics in all business dealings.

The criteria for selection of the Lifetime Achievement Award includes an individual dedicating his or her life to a worthy cause or impacting society or the lives of others. The award is open to civic, educational, institutional and political leadership.

Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said the men honored “truly embody what we hope for in the future.”

“It is the core character of honesty and hard work and diligence and the things you want to instill in future generations,” Robinson said. “If these award winners tonight stay and raise their family in Orangeburg County, isn’t that a success story in itself?”

Here is more about each honoree.

* Danny Mixon, owner of Mixon Seed Co. & Mixon Warehouse

Wholesale field seed distributor Mixon Seed Co. arrived in Orangeburg in December 1972 as Dublin Seed. The company had its origins in Dublin, Georgia.

The company’s market at that time was eastern Georgia and South Carolina.

In September 1985, Mixon Seed was formed. It has now grown to include six states from Alabama to Virginia. The company also has a plant in Albany, Georgia.

The company wholesales corn, cotton, soybeans, peanuts, millet, wheat, rye, oats and grasses.

South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers praised Mixon for his “entrepreneur spirit.”

“He has a great keen analysis of what the landscape is,” Weathers said.” He projects very well. There is no harder working person. When I am on my way home coming around the bypass sometimes late at night and late afternoon. There are still two cars out there at Mixon Seed. That is Danny’s and Debby’s (his wife).”

Others described Mixon as a proven leader who “gives back” to his community as a “go to person.”

Mixon recalled coming to Orangeburg with a 1969 Ford and a 1972 Chevrolet.

“The Lord has blessed us,” he said. “I am high on Orangeburg. We got a lot of things that need to change but it is changeable.”

The company receives product from the likes of Monsanto and Dupont and redistributes the product to agricultural retailers such as Helena Chemical, Meherrin Chemical and Crop Production Services.

The company employs 30 today in Orangeburg, according to the Orangeburg County Development Commission.

* Clarence F. Evans, founder C.F. Evans Construction (posthumously)

C.F. Evans graduated from high school In Orangeburg in 1940 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 as a member of the 245th Engineer Combat Battalion.

Upon returning to the U.S. from the European Theater in 1945, he founded C.F. Evans & Company at the age of 25, building many churches, schools and other buildings across the state.

He led the company as president until his retirement in 1989.

Johnny Evans noted how his father grew up during the World War II era and was a part of a generation that started off with nothing and “built their business the right way.”

“A lot of these businesses are still strong and growing and are doing well,” Evans said.

Clarence Evans was a member of Cameron United Methodist Church, a church he built, for his entire life.

He was a former director of First National Bank, the predecessor to South Carolina Bank & Trust, and he was a board member of the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College Foundation. He was a trustee on the board of the Epworth Children’s Home and he was a Freemason.

Johnny Evans shared a business situation.

“There was a job coming up on and there was a  school building,” Evans said. “He wanted to bid on the school building and their was a bid bond.”

Evans related how his father went to the banker in Holly Hill and asked to borrow $10,000 for one day.

“He went to the bank in Cameron, put it in the bank and then he had an accountant do a  financial statement that showed $10,000 in the bank,” Evans related. “He gave the money back to the banker and went to the bonding company and got a bid bond on the job. He was awarded the job and that is kind of the way he really got started.”

The story received applause and some laughs.

Evans left behind a well-run company.

Johnny says while the business has been in Orangeburg for decades, the company’s growth has exploded outside of South Carolina.

The company’s growth kicked into high gear when it began to specialize in the construction of multifamily dwellings.

In addition to the company’s workmanship, its treatment of employees has also been recognized.

This year, for the eighth consecutive year, C.F. Evans and Co., was named one of the Best Places to Work in South Carolina by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Evans says the reason for the frequent recognition is due to maintaining core values where employees are supported and allowed to grow and “follow their dreams.”

“We are all the time trying to get better,” he said.

* Luther “Luke” C. Kissam IV, chairman, chief operating officer and president of Albemarle Corp.

Luther C. “Luke” Kissam, IV, 52, grew up in the Town of Creston in the 1960s, an avid Clemson football, basketball and baseball fan.

When he was not watching his favorite teams, Kissam could be found in the fields of his Creston home and riding motorcycles.

When he was not at home, Kissam was receiving his schooling through Wade Hampton Academy, now Orangeburg Preparatory Schools. He graduated in 1982.

Following graduation, Kissam went on to The Citadel, where he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1986. Three years later, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Kissam and his brother, Keller, also became regimental commanders at The Citadel. This was the first time brothers shared the honor.

Following graduation, he went to work as general counsel for the Columbia law firm Nexsen Pruet Jacobs & Pollard.

After a few years there, Kissam went to work as general counsel for Greenwood Mills in Greenwood.

It was in Greenwood where he met his wife, Kathyrn, who at the time was working with the Monsanto Co.

Kathyrn was transferred to St. Louis, so Kissam got a position with Monsanto as an associate general counsel and as vice president, general counsel and secretary of Merisant Co., which was formed from Monsanto’s tabletop sweetener business.

The rise to the top for Kissam was swift.

In just six years, he worked his way to the top of the corporate ladder to serve as executive vice president of the Louisiana-based Albemarle Corp., a global provider of specialty chemicals.

It was the first time in the company’s 15 years of operation that someone with local connections reached such a top level corporate position.

In his role, Kissam oversaw all aspects of the company’s manufacturing, legal and administrative business matters.

In addition, Kissam oversaw Albemarle’s worldwide health, safety and environmental functions as well as the company’s global efforts to drive continued operational efficiences and productivity improvements.

Kissam continued to work his way up the corporate ladder, being named the CEO of Albemarle in September 2011 and president in March 2013.

In 2016, Kissam became the company’s chairman. Albemarle employs about 4,000.

Kissam is the son L.C. Kissam III and former Orangeburg Preparatory School teacher Maud Kissam.

He and his wife have three boys, Cole, Henry, and Griffin.

* Sen. John Matthews Jr. — Democratic state senator

A Bowman resident, Matthews graduated from then-South Carolina State College, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and Lincoln Electrical Institute.

He was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 1975, where he served until 1984.

Matthews has been a member of the state Senate since 1985.

Matthews is a Democrat who represents District 39, which includes Orangeburg, Calhoun, Colleton, Dorchester and Berkeley counties.

He serves as a member of the Agriculture and Natural Resources; Banking and Insurance; Education; Ethics; Finance; Fish, Game and Forestry, and Interstate Cooperation committees.

Sen. Brad Hutto, who introduced Matthews, noted he is the longest-serving African-American member of the General Assembly in the history of the state.

Hutto noted there was unanimous agreement in the Senate in 2004 to have Matthews’ portrait hang in the Senate chambers into perpetuity for his accomplishments and leadership.

Hutto related a story of how Matthews went to college and met all these new students who said their parents were either in banking or medicine.

“John was wondering what he was going to say when they got to him. John said, ‘My family is in textiles.’ They said ‘really.’ He said, ‘Well, we picked a lot of cotton.'”

The comment brought a round of laughter.

Hutto noted that during the civil rights movement, communities looked out for future leaders from humble beginnings.

“He has been that leader for us for many, many years,” Hutto said. “He is my friend, he is my mentor. He is a true visionary. He has dedicated his career to those things that will make Orangeburg an industry leader in South Carolina as we move forward.”

Matthews said there are a few things in life that are of paramount importance: a quality education, “cathedral thinking” approach to life, and making sure one’s neighbor is “better off.”

“The great cathedrals of the Bible were not built by one generation, they were multigenerational,” he said. “The first generation of workers know when they were working that we would never see their work complete but they did it anyway.”

Matthews has received numerous awards, including S.C. State’s Distinguished Alumni Award; Orangeburg County Democrat of the Year; induction into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame; South Carolina Primary Health Care Legislator of the Year; and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minority Business Advocate of the Year.

He has also served on a number of boards, including the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus; the Orangeburg County Legislative Delegation; Southern Regional Educational Board and the Governor’s Middle Grades Task Force.

In 2004, a 500-acre industrial park on U.S. 301 near U.S. 176 was named for him.

He and his wife, Geraldine, have five children. Matthews attends Pineville United Methodist Church.

Allied Air to expand, add 100 jobs in Orangeburg

Allied Air Enterprises has committed to investing $10 million and creating 100 new jobs over the next five years at its Orangeburg facility.

Allied Air Enterprises, a maker of heating and air conditioning systems, announced Thursday it is investing about $10 million and adding 100 new jobs at its Orangeburg plant.

The company is investing the money in new equipment and machinery as it expands its existing product line.

“We’re truly grateful for Allied Air in our community. Lennox has been a great partner in our community and we appreciate the local leadership,” Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright Sr. said in a press release.

“What a wonderful Christmas present for many families,” he said.

Allied Air Enterprises says it will make the investment at its Orangeburg County/City Industrial Park facility over the next five years.

The Orangeburg plant produces complete HVAC units, along with replacement parts, for both residential and commercial customers.

Allied Air currently employs 400 in the county, according to the Orangeburg County Development Commission website. It is one of the county’s top five manufacturing employers.

The new jobs will be at or above the county’s average manufacturing wage of $14 to $15 an hour, according to OCDC Executive Director Gregg Robinson.

The jobs will include some salary positions but mostly hourly positions. Hires will occur from the current temporary labor pool as well as new hires, Robinson said.

The county has approved performance-based incentives for the expansion, including a special source tax revenue credit and fee-in-lieu of taxes.

Lennox initially cut the ribbon for its Allied Air Enterprises Inc. plant in 2000, becoming the first tenant of the industrial park located on U.S. Highway 301. The company has continued to expand over the years.

“Our commitment to invest in the Orangeburg facility is a direct result of the hard work and efforts of our local team members at the plant,” Allied Air Enterprises Director of Human Resources Baxter Krutsch said in a press release.

“We have become a part of the local community over the last 16 years and look forward to a successful partnership for many years to come,” he said.

Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler praised the expansion.

“We further appreciate the economic development as it relates to creating employment opportunities for our community residents and investment in our city,” he said.

Thursday’s announcement received praise statewide.

“The fact that a company like Allied Air Enterprises continues to grow its operations in Orangeburg County shows that South Carolina is open for business,” Gov. Henry McMaster said.

“These 100 new jobs will make a big difference in the community, and we’re grateful for this terrific company’s commitment to our state,” he said.

S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said, “It’s always an inspiration to see one of South Carolina’s existing industries succeed. I’m proud to congratulate Allied Air Enterprises and look forward to supporting them as they continue to grow and thrive here.”

Allied Air is a component of Lennox International, Inc. Allied Air includes the brands of Armstrong Air, AirEase, Concord, Ducane, Allied Commercial and Magic-Pak.

Lennox International stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and traded under the symbol LII.

For more information on Allied Air Enterprises, visit