Mark Miller, who operated the Kickin’ Pig restaurant on Cherry Road in Rock Hill, wants to make sure Giti Tire has the authentic southern barbeque flavor.
Miller was one of more than 600 potential vendors who stood in line Wednesday to meet with Giti officials, each taking a few minutes to sell themselves.
Miller, who now operates the BBQ Station and Catering Co. in Lancaster, hopes to convince Giti to use his company for catering and possibly allow him to bring a food truck to the Richburg construction site.
Miller wasn’t the only regional food service provider seeking Giti’s business. Jonathan Taylor of Vendable Systems of Rock Hill was there to learn about Giti’s vending and cafeteria needs.
“This is a great start-from-scratch opportunity,” Taylor said.
Wednesday’s meeting was the second session Giti has held to meet those interested in working with the tire company. About 300 people attended an earlier meeting devoted to possible construction subcontractors for the plant in Richburg.
The session, held at the Gateway Conference Center off Interstate 77, was standing room only. Still, there were plenty of Giti officials on hand to meet individually with potential vendors, chat for a few minutes and exchange business cards.
The focus of the meeting was on any business not part of directly making the passenger and light-truck tires expected to roll off the plant’s assembly lines in late 2016 or early 2017.
Like the first meeting, some vendors have tire-production experience. Jarrett Bowens, a sales engineer with Rexroth Bosch Group, was there to make contacts and see what Giti’s hydraulics needs were. He also wanted to impress on Giti officials that his firm is a South Carolina company with offices near Greenville and experience at other tire plants around the state.
Gloria Hoselton wanted Giti to understand that B3, a Charlotte-based logistics firm, would move the plant’s tire-making machinery from the Charleston port, store it and stage it so it would easily move into the plant’s production line. Giti’s building has a south-to-north orientation. Raw materials will come in at the southern end of the building. Finished tires, about 5 million annually, will depart from the north end.
Giti invited everyone at Wednesday’s session to come back for two meetings in October to get questions answered.
Like at the first meeting, Hank Eisenga, Giti’s vice president of manufacturing, said he was impressed with the talent in the room. He said many of the companies already have the expertise to meet Giti’s needs. But Giti is also interested in companies that are in the growth stage for future partnerships, he said.
Plant construction to start
The walls of Giti’s Chester County tire plant could start going up Thursday. Giti officials said Wednesday site work at the Richburg location is finished and construction of the 1.6 million-square-foot plant should start immediately. Construction is expected to take about a year. Giti officials are hopeful production of passenger and light-truck tires can start in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Currently, Giti employs about 20 people on the project. That number is expected to increase to 200 over the next year, said Hank Eisenga, Giti’s vice president of manufacturing. Over the next 10 years, Giti anticipates hiring up to 1,700 workers at the plant.