SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) – Excavator producer Kobelco announced they’ll be halting production at their plant in Moore starting in May, impacting more than 100 employees.
“It’s more than just a company. It’s part of our family–the Spartanburg industrial and manufacturing family,” Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt said.
Kobelco has been in Spartanburg County for five years now, and, just last year, they made about 600 excavators.
“Their sales are just sky-rocketing,” Britt said. “That’s what’s so tragic about this. It’s not a company that doesn’t have sales and doesn’t have business.”
Soon, though, they’ll be halting production as they wait for the environmental protection agency to approve the engines that go into the hydraulic excavators they make.
The production suspension will start on May 1st and will impact a chunk of their employees.
“Kobelco has about 160 associates, and they will lay off probably 75 to 80% of them if this approval doesn’t come through,” Britt said.
Britt told 7 News that COVID has played a big role in the impact on Kobelco, just like it has for many other companies.
In fact, as we reported last year, Kobelco’s neighbor, carbon-fiber-producer ‘”Toray” wasn’t immune to the negative effects of the virus either.
“I don’t think there’s a company in Spartanburg County that hasn’t been negatively impacted,” Britt said.
But, even with this sad truth, Britt said there’s some good news, too.
“Through March, we’ll have about 1800 new jobs, and we’ll be pushing a billion dollars invested in Spartanburg County from January to March 15th.”
And Britt said, if Kobelco can’t get the approval they need within the next couple of months, the county will host job fairs for their associates.
“They will not miss a beat,” he said. “And, like I’ve said before, the great news is that if it had to happen–if anybody had to have either a temporary or permanent suspension or layoff–Spartanburg County is where you want to be.”
Britt told 7 News he reached out to South Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt and Senator Lindsay Graham’s office, and he said he’s hopeful they’ll be able to help keep Kobelco afloat in Spartanburg County.
Two more of Kobelco’s plants faced a similar issue last year–one in West Virginia and the other in Canada–when the company announced their production would be paused until September of this year.