WINNSBORO — After last summer’s announcement that the flat-screen television producer — Element Electronics — would be moving to the county, production has begun in the old Perry Ellis building at 392 U.S. 321 Bypass North in Winnsboro.
Ridgeway native Carl Kennedy is the vice president of human resources and gave an update of where production is so far during a strategic luncheon at the school district office on Friday.
Kennedy said the plant has hired 120 employees as of Monday (March 24) and plans to hire 500 employees.
One of his main concerns is actively attempting to hire Fairfield County residents.
“Every time I get a list of applications, I ask Jackie Workman (Fairfield County Liaison) how many of those applicants are from Fairfield County,” he told business and community leaders during the conference.
Kennedy anticipates seeing improvements in other areas of the community as those jobs are filled.
According to Kennedy, Fairfield County’s most recent unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, but he expects that number to come down as the Element jobs are filled.
“When people are working the community will see positive changes in other areas,”he noted. “There is a lot of energy and we’re on the right track to change this community.”
On Feb. 28, the first group of new hires began production, which went better than expected.
The line eclipsed their 1,000 quota for the day and are ahead of the curve.
When they hit 1,001 Kennedy said he saw something happen he’d never seen in manufacturing before.
“I heard this roar and after walking out of my office, I saw employees high-fiving and celebrating,” he recollected. “That shows you the caliber of people we’re hiring and the caliber of people in Fairfield County. There is a lot of excitement in what we’re doing.”
The plant will produce Element’s 32-inch and 40-inch televisions in the 315,000 square feet facility.
Kennedy said the plant’s third assembly line should be up and running in the next two weeks.
Element televisions are sold at Walmart and according to Kennedy, there were 1.5 million Element televisions sold nation wide during Black Friday in just one hour.
Element Electronics move to Fairfield County represents a $7.5 million investment.
To make the move possible, the company transferred their production operation from China to Fairfield County.
“South Carolina provides an excellent business environment for our television manufacturing operations, and we look forward to doing great things here (Fairfield County). We appreciate all the support we’ve received from state and local officials,” Element Electronics President Mike O’Shaughnessy wrote in a statement.
When asked about hiring prospective employees with a criminal background, Kennedy said he is considering those individuals on a case-by-case basis after conducting formal interviews.
Employment at Element Electronics does provide health, dental and vision insurance.
The hourly wage of assembly line jobs range from $10.50 per hour to $15 per hour and average out at $12 per hour.
Any person interested in applying for a position, can visit www.sctechjobs.com to find out more information.