Diverse companies – from startups to multinational corporations – continue to relocate and expand existing operations in the Charleston region.
New, Expanding, and Mergers & Acquisitions
December 30, 2020
Online video template platform
Charleston-based Biteable, an online video builder, announced that it has raised $7 million in venture funding led by Cloud Apps Capital Partners. Biteable will use the investment for product development and expanding its global customer base. The company expects to continue scaling its teams across go-to-market, product, engineering, and operations functions. The company has doubled its headcount within the last year, and hiring continues across all functions.
Liberty Hall Capital Partners
December 18, 2020
Private equity firm acquisition
Liberty Hall Capital Partners, a Charleston-based private equity firm that invests in businesses that serve the aerospace and defense industries, is growing with its seventh acquisition. The company recently acquired Comply365 Holdings Inc., a Beloit, Wis., company that focuses on using digital tools to get rid of bulky, paper flight manuals for pilots, among other aerospace and rail related solutions. Headquartered at 200 Meeting St. in downtown Charleston, Liberty Hall was founded in New York City in 2011 and opened a Lowcountry office three years ago. Soon after, the company shifted its home base and 2/3 of its workforce to South Carolina. Liberty Hall’s founding and managing partner said there were three key components to the relocation, including a better quality of life for employees and a desire to get out of the New York City mindset. The most important lure was Charleston’s accessibility. “As you look at locations in the Southeast where you can find an optimal combination of a business-friendly environment, airport access and a general business community, Charleston has it all...Also given our focus of aerospace and the defense industry, you have Boeing and Joint Base Charleston.” With its recent investment in Comply365, Liberty Hall has upped its acquisition tally to seven platforms. Of those seven, three completed a total of nine more add-on acquisitions.
Vikor Scientific, LLC
December 8, 2020
Founded in 2018, Vikor Scientific, LLC specializes in antibiotic stewardship and tangible solutions for the practice of value-based medicine in the treatment of infectious disease. The company provides clinicians with advanced molecular methodology for pathogen detection, quantification and resistance gene identification. The firm's expansion will increase its capacity to assemble and distribute both COVID-19 and full molecular panel testing kits across the country. The expansion is expected to be completed by January 2021.
Carver Maritime LLC
November 23, 2020
Founded in 2016, Carver Maritime LLC has a deep-water pier for loading and offloading ships and barges, along with more than half a million square feet of warehousing space. Additionally, the company accommodates ships carrying cargo such as salt, break bulk, gypsum and stone aggregates. Located at 1801 Shipyard Creek Road in North Charleston, Carver Maritime, LLC's expansion will include the construction of a new 120,000-square-foot building to support its stevedoring, warehousing and supply chain business. The expansion is expected to be completed by 2025, and is the second expansion of the local firm in two years.
Refuel Operating Company, LLC
November 13, 2020
Retail and wholesale fuel distribution and convenience store operator
Refuel Operating Company, LLC ("Refuel"), a Charleston, South Carolina-based retail and wholesale fuel distribution and convenience store business, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Holmes Oil, Inc ("Holmes Oil"), a North Carolina-based convenience store and fuel distribution business. Refuel is a portfolio company of First Reserve, a leading global private equity investment firm exclusively focused on energy. Holmes Oil was founded in 1997 by Edward Holmes when he purchased Kenan Oil Company and is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The company owns and operates 26 convenience stores located in the greater Raleigh-Durham market operating under the "Cruizers" brand and also operates a wholesale distributorship for ExxonMobil and Valero motor fuels. The transaction represents the sixth acquisition for Refuel since establishing the partnership with First Reserve in May 2019 and brings the total company operated store count to 113 stores. Financial details of the transactions were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Baker Motor Company
November 9, 2020
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van dealership
This new facility, opening in December 2020 at 425 Sigma Drive, will be the first-ever standalone Sprinter Van dealership of its kind. The 28,600 square foot dealership, spanning over 13 acres, will be housed in the Nexton community and allow interested parties to customize their individual van or up-fit an entire fleet. The new site will also offer other luxury vehicles for purchase as well as capability to service cars from the Baker Motor luxury portfolio. Customers will have the opportunity to take advantage of all the perks the new facility has to offer, including biking and hiking trails, a play area for the kids and a fishing pond while they are getting their car serviced.
Defense Engineering Services (DES)
November 5, 2020
Technical, design and manufacturing engineering services
Founded in 2013, DES is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business which specializes in survivability, vehicle systems and mechanical engineering. The company provides technical, design and manufacturing services for government and private companies across the country, delivering technical solutions, test services, prototype fabrication and low-rate manufacturing for large and small projects. Located in North Charleston, the expansion of DES will increase the company’s manufacturing and storage capacity, while providing additional office space and resources for engineering and design team members. “We started DES in South Carolina and the friendly business climate has helped us reinvest and grow. Over the next five years, we are planning for steady growth both through federal contracting and our involvement with other thriving businesses in the state. We look forward to continuing to build DES and expanding our capability to offer engineering, design and prototyping services,” said managing principals Greg Gordon and Bob Cole. The expansion is expected to be completed by 2025.
October 29, 2020
Headquarters and manufacturing of COVID-19 rapid test kits
Established in 2019, Vigilent Labs provides unique solutions to the detection, identification and assessment of health and bio-threats. The company's team has substantial experience in the development of medical and bio-surveillance technologies as well as medical devices. Located at 1105 Truxton Avenue, Building 74 in North Charleston, Vigilent Labs' new operations will serve as the company's headquarters, which will include its East Coast production and manufacturing operations. Specifically, the company will work with its partners, SeroClinix and Leinco, to produce rapid COVID-19 antibody and antigen test kits. These FDA-approved and emergency use authorized test kits are cost-effective and will produce fast and accurate results in seven to 10 minutes. The new facility will begin manufacturing activities in December.
October 27, 2020
Warehousing, distribution, third party logistics
Founded in 2006, Dockside Logistics specializes in warehousing and distribution, third-party logistics, packaging and order fulfillment services for clients nationwide. The company’s new Dorchester County operations will grow Dockside Logistics’ presence in South Carolina, with the company already operating facilities in Charleston and Greenville Counties. Dockside purchased a 100,000-square-foot speculative building located at 4756 U.S. Highway 78 in Winding Woods Commerce Park in St. George that the company will utilize as a distribution center. Operations are expected to be online by the first quarter of 2021.
Blue Acorn iCi
October 15, 2020
E-commerce and digital services
The ownership of a technology business that was launched in Charleston more than a decade ago is changing hands in a deal valued up to $125 million. Blue Acorn, which was founded in 2008, became Blue Acorn iCi after merging with another firm last year. The company started out in e-commerce, later adding other digital services to its tech repertoire, and has expanded to multiple offices nationwide, including its headquarters in Charleston. In announcing the sale, Blue Acorn iCi said it employed about 300 workers as of late 2019. The buyer is Infosys Limited, a publicly traded company that is based in India and specializes in digital services and consulting. According to a document Infosys recently filed with stock market regulators, Blue Acorn iCi’s annual revenue has increased 28 percent since 2017 to $43.6 million in 2019. Infosys says it plans to keep Blue Acorn iCi's management intact.
The Boeing Company
October 1, 2020
787 Aircraft manufacturing
The Boeing Co. has confirmed it will consolidate production of its 787 Dreamliner jet in South Carolina, closing the 787 production line in Everett, Washington. The Everett facility has been splitting 787 final assembly operations with Boeing’s plant in North Charleston. The consolidation will begin in mid-2021, the company said. Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said that moving all 787 assembly to South Carolina would make them “more competitive and efficient” and better able to “weather these challenging times and win new business.” There are about 900 employees right now in the Everett / Puget Sound region who work on the 787 program, but decisions about staffing changes “will be developed and evaluated in the next few months in conjunction with the overall transition plan,” Boeing officials announced. The airline industry is feeling the negative effects of a global pandemic but has projected a brighter future once an effective vaccine for COVID-19 is widely available.
Daye North America
September 24, 2020
Outdoor power equipment distribution
A subsidiary of Ningbo Daye Garden Machinery Company headquartered in China, Daye North America is an industry leader in the development of outdoor power equipment, including gas-powered and battery-powered lawn mowers, string trimmers, blowers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers, lawn tractors and zero turn radius riding mowers. Located at the Ladson Industrial Park off Highway 78 in North Charleston, Daye North America's new facility will increase the company's capacity to meet growing demand for its lawnmowers and power equipment and serve local, regional and national retailers.
Driverge Vehicle Innovations, LLC
September 17, 2020
Manufacture and distribution of commercial shuttles, wheelchair-accessible vans, transporters and small buses
With multiple locations nationwide, Driverge builds and ships commercial shuttles, wheelchair-accessible vans, transporters and small buses throughout North America. The company provides vehicle conversions for healthcare companies, fleet management, hotel corporations, taxis, wheelchair transport services and many other markets. Located at 9004-S Sightline Drive in North Charleston, Driverge’s expansion will increase camper van production. "Our commitment to Charleston is the result of a talented local workforce and the enterprising government support for the automotive industry,” remarked Driverge President Mark Minatel.
September 15, 2020
Headquarters, import and wholesale distribution, design studio and retail outlet for high-end dinnerware and home decor
Founded in 2001 by husband and wife David and Capucine Gooding, the firm will invest $1.9 million in offices, a distribution center, a design studio and an outlet store for local sales. The company is moving from Stamford, Conn., to its new location at 7991 Palmetto Commerce Blvd in Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston. The company owners said they have been visiting Charleston for years “and always dreamed of one day relocating our company here...[because] the historic architecture, natural beauty, growing business community and abundant sense of ‘family’ here are the perfect fit with our European heritage and brand values.” Also, Juliska imports its products through the Port of Charleston.
September 8, 2020
Temperature-controlled logistics solutions
Lineage Logistics is one of the world’s largest refrigerated warehousing companies with more than 300 facilities in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. “Charleston has it all �“ first-rate infrastructure, great access, a top ranked port and a skilled workforce. South Carolina’s numerous business advantages, in addition to the booming market, have helped Lineage to better service our export and import customers, as well as our domestic shipping partners. We are thrilled to expand our existing operations in what we believe is the right location at the right time.” -President and CEO of Lineage Logistics Greg Lehmkuhl. The expansion is expected to be completed by February 2021.
Cantey Tech Consulting
September 1, 2020
IT hosting services, server management, data security and consulting services
The firm states that this growth --expected to be completed by 2023-- will enable the company to aggressively expand into the medical, legal, business and education sectors. “Our headquarters and primary office will always be here in Charleston County. It’s a great place to work and grow our business. Most importantly, Charleston is a big draw for technical talent and, in our IT support and consulting business, people are everything,” says Cantey Tech Consulting CEO Willis Cantey.
August 18, 2020
Technology for municipal water and wastewater treatment, industrial wastewater treatment, water storage tanks, and industrial process mixing
GEF Capital Partners announced that it has acquired a controlling interest in Charleston-based EnviroMix, Inc. EnviroMix offers innovative water and wastewater solutions to municipal and industrial markets through its proprietary mixing and process control technologies. By focusing on enhanced nutrient removal, reductions in energy use, and operational cost savings, EnviroMix provides water and wastewater customers with numerous economic and environmental benefits. In conjunction with the transaction, EnviroMix's management team is retaining a significant interest in the company.
Braskem & Frontier Logistics
July 24, 2020
Global Export Hub providing packaging, warehousing and export shipping services
The new Global Export Hub (expected completion by the third quarter of 2020) will have capacity to support export shipments of up to 450 million pounds (204 Kilotons) of polypropylene and specialty polymers annually to Braskem customers worldwide. Braskem is partnering with the Port of Charleston and warehouse provider Frontier Logistics, which will construct, lease and provide services to Braskem under a five-year agreement at the 550,000 sq. ft. McMillan Road facility in North Charleston. "With excellent access to national rail and highway networks, this important new logistics and distribution facility in the South Carolina port region significantly enhances Braskem America's international export capability," said Braskem America CEO Mark Nikolich. Philadelphia-based Braskem is a multinational firm and is the largest polyolefins producer in the Americas and leading producer of biopolymers in the world.
Walmart Distribution Center
July 20, 2020
Direct import distribution center
Once completed, the new storage and cross-dock facility will span nearly three million square feet and be served by the Port of Charleston. This direct import distribution center, which will take approximately 14 months to build, will supply several regional distribution centers supporting approximately 850 Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs across South Carolina and beyond. "At a time when job creation is so vital, and --more than ever-- our customers are relying on Walmart for the essentials they need during this unprecedented time, we are excited about the impact this new facility will have on the regional economy and how it will help us better serve customers across the Southeast," said Walmart Executive Vice President of Supply Chain Greg Smith.
Holy City Linen
June 24, 2020
Commercial laundry services
Founded in 2016 in Mount Pleasant, Holy City Linen provides a quality, eco-friendly commercial laundry service throughout the Charleston area. Opening a second facility at 1275 Remount Road in North Charleston, Holy City Linen's expansion will allow the company to increase capacity to meet growing demand in the medical and hospitality industries.
June 23, 2020
Snack food manufacturing
Founded in 2016, Lowcountry Kettle uses local Bulls Bay salts to create a variety of kettle cooked potato chip flavors, including Bloody Mary, Mustard BBQ Sauce, Spicy Pimento Cheese and State Fair Fried Pickle. Located at 4447 Dorchester Road in North Charleston, Lowcountry Kettle's expansion will enable growth into other regions of the state and the Southeast, along with the addition of two new flavors - Bulls Bay Sea Salt and Carolina Reaper - to the company's product line. The expansion is expected to be completed in the summer of 2020.
June 17, 2020
Custom-build Land Rover Defenders
Established in 2006 and headquartered in Bath, England, of the United Kingdom, Arkonik Ltd., specializes in the restoration and customization of Land Rover Defenders for customers all over the world. Arkonik anticipates steady growth potential for its new Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) location in the City of Charleston in Berkeley County, South Carolina. Arkonik SVO will serve as the company’s flagship operation for engine and transmission upgrades and provide a physical presence in North America where clients can test drive the vehicles, meet the team, and discuss their custom options face to face. An electric vehicle platform is planned for 2021. Charleston’s highly-skilled workforce, business-friendly climate, and globally-connected infrastructure like the Port of Charleston, influenced the company’s decision to locate here to better serve its customers.
June 10, 2020
SaaS (software as a service)
In 2019, Boston based,Vendr, announced they were expanding to Charleston, South Carolina. Today, the company, which has their Charleston office at Flaghip-WestEdge, announced they raised $4 million on top of $2 million raised in September 2019. Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/10/vendr-raises-4m-from-david-sackss-craft-ventures-to-reduce-saas-bills/
May 27, 2020
Tire and wheel assembly
The Kontane Logistics Inc. facility at 830 Drop Off Drive, just off Interstate 26, will employ 30 workers and support the Volvo plant in nearby Ridgeville which builds S60 sedans. It’s the second automotive-related announcement in recent months for Kontane, according to Rusty Byrd, chief operations officer, who said in October the firm will also provide “just in time” parts delivery for the Mercedes-Benz Vans plant in North Charleston. Kontane’s headquarters is at a warehouse and distribution center on Charleston Regional Parkway, and the company has facilities in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas.
May 11, 2020
Mount Pleasant-based Arcadia Publishing has acquired a New Orleans book publisher, River Road Press. Arcadia has been on an acquisition streak: In 2019, the company also purchased Wildsam, a guidebook publisher based in Austin, Texas, and another Louisiana-based firm, Pelican Publishing. Arcadia’s books can be found nationally in specialty and chain retailers, as its niche is historic content.
Charleston Stevedoring Company LLC (CSC)
May 6, 2020
Container terminal and stevedoring services
Marine Terminals Corporation East (Ports America), Ceres Marine Terminals Inc. (Ceres), and SSA Atlantic LLC (SSA) are pleased to announce they have formed a joint venture company to provide container terminal and stevedoring services in the Port of Charleston in South Carolina. “The new entity will provide significant benefits to the Port of Charleston, including improved container terminal services through the consolidated operations at all berths, as well as more efficient vessel turn times and improved equipment utilization,” CSC President Dan Hall said. “The combined company will optimize use of terminal capacity and improve integration between terminal, vessel and gate operations.” Ports America is a U.S. terminal operator and stevedore, with operations in every major port in the nation. Ceres is a transportation service provider, with stevedoring and terminal operations across multiple cargo types and operations in many of North America’s key ports. SSA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Seattle-based Carrix Inc., is a marine and rail terminal operator in the Americas and internationally. The new joint venture becomes operational May 4, 2020.
March 17, 2020
North American Headquarters; Answering services and outsourced switchboards for small and large businesses
Moneypenny, with a Charleston-based North American headquarters and a UK-based world headquarters, has extended its services in the US with the acquisition of VoiceNation and Ninja Number. The details of the transaction have not been disclosed. VoiceNation is an award-winning bilingual telephone answering provider and Ninja Number is a cutting-edge business phone app that provides a virtual phone system for entrepreneurs. Both companies were co-founded by Jay Reeder and Graham Taylor in 2002 and are based in Atlanta, Georgia. Moneypenny works with businesses of all shapes and sizes, from sole traders to multinational corporations and has over 750 staff based in the UK and Charleston, USA. The company was founded in 2000 and currently handles over 15 million calls and live chats for 13,000 businesses.
March 5, 2020
Design and manufacture of fiber laser cutting machines for OEM machine builders
Founded in 1985, PRC Laser Corporation supplies original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with proven industrial lasers that offer cost-effective and efficient technology. Additionally, the company supplies end users with unique lasers for special purpose applications. Located at 4279 K Crosspoint Drive in North Charleston, PRC Laser Corporation’s new location will allow the company to increase capacity and expand its assembly and testing operations. “PRC is very excited to join the many diverse global manufacturers locating to the Charleston area. Our state-of-the-art industrial laser products, global service network and U.S.-based manufacturing combine to create many growth opportunities for customers and employees. We look forward to helping make the S.C. Lowcountry a hub for industrial laser products for both the North American and global markets,” said PRC Laser Corporation President Walter Wilson.
United States Coast Guard
February 18, 2020
Coast Guard "Superbase"
The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Karl Schultz, identified Charleston as a "future Coast Guard operational center of gravity" in his annual State of the Coast Guard address recently. Charleston is already home to one of the nation's largest concentrations of Coast Guard assets and personnel. The former naval base in North Charleston hosts more than a thousand Coast Guard personnel and three cutters, and five additional National Security cutters will be added by 2024. The new Coast Guard "superbase" may grow by another thousand personnel during the five-year plan and will likely consolidate elements of Coast Guard Sector Charleston, Coast Guard Station Charleston, and the Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement Academy--all based at different sites throughout Charleston.
Palmetto Clean Technology Inc.
February 17, 2020
Technology company that works with customers directly and with companies that sell solar panel and energy storage systems to demonstrate utility savings with alternative energy use
One of Charleston’s most mature startup companies, Palmetto Clean Technology Inc., closed another round of funding in early 2020 and marked its 10-year anniversary. CEO Chris Kemper described the company’s technology as a “utility savings platform” that roughly 4,000 small companies now use. The firm's technology can show homeowners how they can save money by installing solar, Kemper said, and also serves to help solar installation businesses with design tools, financing, logistics, customer relations and project management. Palmetto's headquarters is in Charleston, South Carolina, with additional offices in San Francisco, California, Sea Girt, New Jersey, Charlotte, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, and Greenville, South Carolina.
January 18, 2020
A Charleston accounting software firm has raised another $9.1 million to finance its growth, solidifying the startup’s position as among the best-funded in the region’s technology industry. Located on Charleston’s upper peninsula, Ceterus develops web-based software and financial reporting tools. Founded in 2008, the firm has completed four major rounds of investments totaling more than $30 million. CEO Levi Morehouse said the latest financing will be invested in growth initiatives
January 13, 2020
Software buying services: Centralized enterprise SaaS purchasing and renewals management
Boston-based Vendr provides expert SaaS buyers to growth-oriented client companies like HubSpot, DraftKings, CarGurus, Grammarly and InVision so firms can focus on their core business. College of Charleston alumnus Ryan Neu founded the firm in 2018 in Boston and has tasked fellow CofC alumnus and the firm's Head of Vendor Management, Jeff Swank, to lead the Charleston office. Swank says, "Having spent the past 15 years in Charleston, I’ve seen how much talent there is here, and the tech community is only getting bigger. We’re looking forward to being a part of it and building an anchor team here locally.” Vendr chose to house operations at the Flagship-WestEdge building in downtown Charleston.
January 8, 2020
Managed IT services franchise with locations nationwide
“With the city’s recent influx of technology companies and the area’s ever-growing population, we couldn’t think of a better place than Charleston to open this branch of TeamLogic IT,” owner Denise Kaufman said in a news release. “We’re excited to tap in the region’s highly educated pool of workers while fulfilling a diverse array of area businesses’ IT needs.” TeamLogic provides support to businesses that do not have an IT department and collaborates with the internal IT departments of companies that need additional support. It offers services such as business data backup, cybersecurity consulting and implementation, email hosting, disaster recovery and planning, and more. The Charleston office is planning to hire multiple technicians and administrative support staff.