A New Jersey auto parts maker expects to open a Conway area plant that will employ more than 100 workers.
CRP Industries Inc. on Wednesday announced its plans, which include a $2.5 million investment and hiring 115 employees over the next five years. The average wage for those jobs will be $15 per hour. The new operation will manufacture electric power steering systems, which are more technically complex than traditional hydraulic steering units.
“There’s a real opportunity to advance in the higher tech side of the automotive parts business,” said Scott Shea, chief operating officer with CRP. “That’s what excites us about this operation in Conway. It’s the future of the business.”
In business for more than 60 years, CRP provides a variety of parts, including AAE steering components, Pentosin technical fluids and Perske motors. Headquartered in New Jersey, the company also has locations in Mexico and just across the state line in Tabor City, North Carolina.
The Conway area plant will be inside a 50,000-square-foot building on Bashor Road, which is in the Homewood area just north of Conway.
The new facility’s proximity to the Tabor City plant is one reason CRP chose Horry County for its expansion. Shea said the location allows the company to use the same management and engineering expertise while growing the business.
CRP leaders expect to get their certificate of occupancy for the building next month and begin hiring toward the end of September. The company will be looking to fill multiple positions, including electrical technicians, machine operators, maintenance mechanics, warehouse operators and administrative staff. There will also be some engineering positions.
Those interested in CRP jobs will be able to apply at scworks.org.
In exchange for expanding into Horry County, the company will receive $375,000 in public money, officials said. That consists of $125,000 from utility Santee Cooper, $150,000 from the state and $100,000 from the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. (EDC), the county’s industry recruitment agency.
That money will be distributed in the form of grants that will be paid as the company reaches specific hiring and investment benchmarks.
Along with the financial incentives, Shea said another factor in the company's decision is Horry Georgetown Technical College. CRP plans to partner with the school to train workers, and Shea expects the manufacturer will also hire some HGTC graduates.
"We've already been in discussions with them about potentially forming some curricula based on our needs," he said. "There's several different potential opportunities with the college that we're excited about."
In recent years, the EDC has focused on recruiting manufacturing firms, which local leaders say are necessary to diversify an economy that heavily depends on tourism. They credit HGTC with creating programs and facilities — such as the Advanced Manufacturing Center that opened in 2017 — to further those efforts.
"Everybody's been reading in the paper and in media that two-year trades are in demand," said Sandy Davis, president of the EDC. "Horry Georgetown Technical College has worked hard to provide the skills we need to be able to recruit for manufacturing. And right now we have 100 percent placement. With the new Advanced Manufacturing facility, we can take on larger classes. So this is great for our area because all those people who are going into those programs will be able to find jobs."