With twice the average number of manufacturing employees, it’s easy to understand why Greenville, SC and the rest of Upstate South Carolina have a strong reputation for manufacturing. As South Carolina Commerce Secretary, Bobby Hitt, put it, “We make things.” But, what kind of things? From BMW’s to bandanas Greenville, SC makes it all.
BMW: The X Family
If you see a BMW X5 in Brazil, China or Germany, you’re looking at a car made in Upstate, South Carolina. This is true for the X3, X4, X6 and eventually the X7 series as well. More than 8,000 people work at this 6.2 million-square-foot plant between Greenville and Spartanburg along Interstate 85. In 2014, this plant manufactured 364,000 luxury cars with over 70% of them shipped overseas, making it the top U.S. car exporter and the gem of the Upstate economy.
Even though Greenville is no longer considered the Textile Capital of the World, remnants of the past still remain in Carolina Manufacturing. Opened in 1946, this company manufactured cotton handkerchiefs for the Hav-A-Hank brand. Today, its main manufactured product is bandanas. Available in more than 40 colors, these bandanas are sold in large chain retailers like REI and Cabela’s.
A staple in any true southern household, Duke’s Mayonnaise has resided in Greenville for nearly a century. Getting its start in 1917 when founder Eugenia Duke created the recipe for her sandwich business, Duke’s is still manufactured in Mauldin, SC in a factory that spits out 240 jars a minute of this secret, sugarless recipe.
General Electric Company has been manufacturing electric turbines in Greenville since 1968, with the majority of these being exported around the world. Their newest model 602,000 pounds and can generate enough power for more than 300,000 homes. A not so surprising fact is that half of its 3,200 employees are engineers that help create and produce these monstrosities. The company also has a smaller manufacturing facility in Greenville County that produces jet engine parts.
One of Greenville’s newest manufactures, Proterra, is quickly making its mark on the economy and the environment. Started in 2010, Proterra is building battery powered transit buses that produce no emissions into the atmosphere. As of 2015, this company has sold over 100 buses to transit agencies throughout the U.S.
Upstate native, Bill Masters, took his passion for riding the Chattooga River rapids and turned it into a profitable business. Perception Kayaks was started in 1976 and celebrated its stand as market leader a decade later. Today the company is under the name of Confluence Outdoor and manufactures 3 brands of kayaks as well as canoes, surfboards and paddleboards at its Greenville location.
What happens when you combine a tire with a wheel? You get Michelin’s Tweel. Developed and manufactured in Greenville, this new, airless tire concept never goes flat and is currently being sold for use on larger construction equipment and commercial lawnmowers and will soon be developed for all-terrain vehicles. Michelin’s North American headquarters is located in Greenville, right off Interstate 85.