Originally created 07/21/98

Aiken ZEUS plant opening



AIKEN - The South Carolina Department of Commerce announced Monday the surprise that was spoiled a month ago: ZEUS is opening a plant in Aiken.

The newest 86,000-square-foot-facility will join those in Gaston, S.C., Orangeburg and two facilities in Raritan, N.J. The company is expected to employ about 150 people, bringing its total work force to about 850 workers.

In June, company officials confirmed reports that ZEUS planned to locate a new plant in Aiken. The project was discussed during a Lower Savannah Council of Governments meeting in Orangeburg.

Founded in 1966 by Frank P. Tourville Sr., ZEUS is a leading manufacturer and global distributor of fluoropolymer, or Teflon, tubing. The company will locate in the former A&L Foods bottling company building off U.S. Highway 78, near Owens Corning. The Commerce Department owned the building.

Officials from ZEUS and the state department declined to disclose the building's purchase price.

Renovations on the building have already begun.

"Aiken County's large pool of educated workers, infrastructure, access to established customers and a pro-business climate with good economic potential will be a plus for ZEUS," said state Secretary of Commerce Robert Royall.

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony has not been set, said company spokesman Ed Braga.

Hourly wages for workers haven't been announced, either.

ZEUS' job announcement comes just days after Avondale Mills officials said they would close the company's Hickman Plant in Graniteville, cutting some 200 jobs. The company hopes to offer all of the displaced employees some other type of work within the next two months.

Aiken County's unemployment rate is currently 3.8 percent, slightly higher than last month, while the state's is 3.4 percent.

ZEUS has played a leading role in commercial and military aviation as well as missile and space shuttle technology.

Its products can be found on the Boeing 737 and in hospitals and emergency rooms for catheter operations.

South Carolina's economy set records in May with the most jobs and highest capital investment ever announced in a one-month period.

Companies in May announced they had invested more than $690 million, creating a record-shattering 3,895 new jobs. Slightly more than half of the jobs announced came from new companies, with the remaining created from expansions.

Last year, Aiken County led the state in capital investment, attracting $891.5 million and placed fifth in the total jobs announced, with 1,572.