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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Start of Production

Dec 05, 2022 06:16PM ● By David Dykes

Production Begins For First BMW XM At Plant Spartanburg

(Photo: The first-ever BMW XM at final assembly of BMW Plant Spartanburg. Credit – Steve Wilson)

Series production for the first-ever BMW XM has started at BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg, S.C.

The BMW XM will be built alongside the BMW X5, BMW X6, and BMW X7 on the same assembly line.

“We are excited to add the first-ever BMW XM to our plant’s portfolio,” said Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing.

“The modern, future-oriented design and powerful performance of the BMW XM has generated a lot of enthusiasm. As the center of competence for X models, BMW Plant Spartanburg is prepared to build this vehicle with the highest premium quality that our customers deserve.”

The BMW XM is the first high-performance car with an electrified drive system from BMW M. A plug-in hybrid system comprising a V8 gasoline engine and a powerful electric motor adds to the BMW XM. The BMW XM also is the first BMW M original since the BMW M1. 

The BMW XM will arrive at dealers worldwide in spring 2023. BMW officials say key sales markets will be the United States, China, and the Middle East.

The start of production for the BMW XM marks the end of a headline year at BMW Plant Spartanburg.

The year began with the U.S. Department of Commerce confirming that BMW Manufacturing led the nation in automotive exports by value for the eighth consecutive year. Plant Spartanburg’s 257,876 exports in 2021 had a total export value of more than $10.1 billion. 

In March, Engelhorn announced that the BMW Group would invest more than $200 million to construct a 219,000-square-foot press shop on the plant site. Construction of the press shop is well underway; production will start in the summer of 2024. 

In April, BMW Manufacturing affirmed its continued commitment to social responsibility with an announced donation of $1.25 million to restore and preserve eight acres of urban wetlands at Unity Park near downtown Greenville, S.C.

The donation also supports construction of a series of low-impact boardwalks and overlooks through the wetlands area. 

During September, associates celebrated an important milestone – the 30th anniversary of BMW’s groundbreaking for the South Carolina plant. The celebration came during the same month as production of the six millionth BMW built in the United States, a Java Green Metallic BMW X6 M. 

BMW Manufacturing’s new state-of-the-art logistics center also opened in September. The $100 million project included the construction of two private bridges connecting the logistics center to the plant site.

The 1 million-square-foot logistics center consolidates two warehouses and their material into one building, making processes faster, leaner, and more efficient. 

One week later, Plant Spartanburg took a giant step forward in workforce development with the opening of its new training center.

The $20 million, 68,000-square-foot training center features multiple classrooms for both professional development and technical training, an amphitheater, and a unique concept of outdoor meeting and workspace that includes wireless capabilities. 

The year’s biggest announcement came on October 19, as the BMW Group revealed its electromobility plan for the United States.

BMW Group Chairman of the Board of Management, Oliver Zipse, announced a $1.7 billion investment in its U.S. operation, including $1 billion to prepare Plant Spartanburg to produce electric vehicles. Another $700 million will be invested to build a new high-voltage battery assembly facility in Woodruff, SC.

By 2030, the BMW Group will build at least six fully electric models in the United States.

Since 1992, the BMW Group has invested nearly $12 billion in its South Carolina operations.

BMW Manufacturing is the largest BMW Group plant in the world, producing more than 1,500 vehicles each day and 433,810 vehicles in 2021, a record.

Company officials say the plant is an important part of BMW’s global production network and plays a critical role in meeting the high demand for BMW Sports Activity Vehicles in the U.S. and around the world.

Nearly 60 percent of its vehicles are shipped to about 120 global markets, making BMW the largest automotive exporter by value in the United States for eight consecutive years.

The model portfolio includes five top-selling BMW X models, five Motorsport X models, and two plug-in hybrid electric vehicle X models. The factory has an annual production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles and employs more than 11,000 people.  

Metal Trades, Inc. Expanding Operations In Charleston County

Metal Trades, Inc., a family-owned steel and metal manufacturer, announced plans to expand its operations in Charleston County.

The company’s $14.4 million investment will create 64 jobs, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

Founded in 1962, Metal Trades, Inc. is a heavy steel fabricator that serves the marine industry, specializing in steel and sheet metal fabrication for commercial and government markets.

The company’s broad portfolio includes steel processing, fabrication, welding, piping, machining, electrical installation, blasting and painting.

Located at 4194 Highway 165 in Meggett, Metal Trades, Inc.’s expansion includes construction of a new facility on its existing campus.

The expansion will allow the company to build components and fixtures in-house for the United States Navy, Commerce officials said.

The new building will be located near the company’s 1,000-ton marine railway, accommodating the fabrication and transfer of large steel structures directly to the Intracoastal Waterway.

The project also will allow the company to expand its capabilities in manufacturing expertise, heavy lift capability and direct barge access, Commerce officials said.

The expansion is expected to be complete by the second half of 2023. Those interested in joining Metal Trades, Inc. should go to the company’s careers page.

The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to the project. 

J.D. Power Ranks Piedmont Natural Gas No. 1 In Customer Satisfaction In South Large Segment

Piedmont Natural Gas earned the No. 1 spot in customer satisfaction with residential natural gas service in the South among large utilities, according to the J.D. Power 2022 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.

This is the first time Piedmont Natural Gas has received the No.1 ranking, topping six other utilities in the South Large segment.

Piedmont earned top rankings in the following study factors: billing and payment, corporate citizenship, communications, customer care and safety and reliability.

This year’s study results are based on responses from over 57,000 online interviews conducted from January 2022 through October 2022 with residential customers of the 84 largest natural gas utility brands, representing nearly 64.6 million households across the United States.

J.D. Power began measuring the customer satisfaction of natural gas utilities in 2002.

Piedmont Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, distributes natural gas to more than 1.1 million residential, commercial, industrial, and power generation customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

United Community Bank Adds New Chief Marketing Officer

Greenville, S.C.-based United Community Bank is bolstering its executive leadership team, adding banking veteran Abraham Cox as chief marketing officer.

In this role, Cox will be responsible for amplifying the company’s brand promise through effective digital marketing, branding, advertising, and communications, company officials said.

He will lead the bank’s marketing and communication strategies supporting the company’s strategic goals, accelerating United Community Bank’s efforts across all channels to serve and meet the needs of its bankers, customers, and communities, the officials said.

Cox will report directly to United Community Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lynn Harton and serve on the bank’s executive team.

“Abraham’s impressive banking experience and different leadership roles make him a great fit for our United Community Bank team. With more than 20 years of experience across many aspects of the banking industry, I am confident that he will help us thoughtfully grow and expand our brand across the Southeast,” said Harton.

Cox joins United Community Bank from Truist Financial Corporation, where he was most recently responsible for mortgage originations for the company and successfully navigated the complex integration of two high performing sales organizations since the Merger of Equals of BB&T and SunTrust.

He began his banking career in 2000 with BB&T, where over the next two decades, he held leadership roles in markets and regions across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Said Cox: “The United brand reputation is strong and the potential for an even greater presence in the financial industry is an incredible opportunity. I’m excited to be part of something with such great momentum.”

Cox is a graduate of North Carolina State University and the Graduate School of Banking at LSU.

He will relocate from North Carolina to Greenville, S.C. to work alongside the other members of United Community Bank’s executive leadership team.

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