Reflections by Sammy Way: Segalock fasteners: Making marked progress

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 4/21/19

Reflections remembers a valued post-war industry which became established in the Sumter community, Segalock Fasteners. This modern facility " had initially established itself in the Gamecock City in January of 1948 in a 6,500-foot plant located on …

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Reflections by Sammy Way: Segalock fasteners: Making marked progress

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Reflections remembers a valued post-war industry which became established in the Sumter community, Segalock Fasteners. This modern facility " had initially established itself in the Gamecock City in January of 1948 in a 6,500-foot plant located on Commerce Street. Within a short timespan it grew to employ 12 employees and had an annual payroll in excess of $10,000. "The company had a well-sustained reputation for its zippers and was regarded as one of the model establishments of its kind in South Carolina." The company would eventually open two addition plants on Harvin Street and on East Hampton Ave. The information and photos used to produce this article were obtained from The Item archives.

In May of 1949 an article ran in The Sumter Daily Item announcing that Segalock Fasteners, Inc., a division of the Sega Lock and Hardware Company of New York, decided to expand its enterprise to Sumter. "The company was the successor to the Burglarproof Lock Company, which had been established in New York in 1912. During World War II, the company was a prime contractor for the Army and Navy, manufacturing bomb fuses, fragmentation bombs, armor piercing and high-explosive projectiles as well as tools, dies, gauges, aircraft instruments, etc. A contract to build a new building which would house all three sites, was awarded to Boyle Construction whose low bid of $93,785 was accepted and construction was begun immediately. Segalock was the seventh largest business of its kind in the United States.

"The building was put up by Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc., a local corporation working in close co-operation with the Sumter Chamber of Commerce. The Boyle Construction Company's bid was low among ten bids submitted, which ranged from a high of $117,311 to the accepted figure submitted by Boyle. In addition to this sum, other costs included air-conditioning, lighting and wiring plus the cost of land, bring the total cost of the building project to approximately $175,000. B. L. Montague, president of the Manufacturing Enterprises Inc., noted that the construction of the new building would begin immediately, and the plant was expected to start operation by January 1, 1950.

The structure was located on the south side of East Liberty Street, approximately 300 feet east of Turkey Creek. Designed to be fireproof, the building was the latest type of mill construction, consisting of brick, steel and concrete. "The most desirable working temperature was maintained year-round by means of the air conditioning system which was installed. The plant featured a scientifically installed lighting system, ensuring that the employees could work in comfort.

"Plans to move south were first made by Segalock officials when the Sumter community was selected as the site following a survey of several Southern cities. Louis Segal, president of the parent Segal Lock and Hardware Company, had visited Sumter in the fall of 1946 where he witnessed a positive labor climate and other important factors leading him to make plans to expand the facility. "The majority of the zipper plant's workers were women, and Segalock officials described them as being well-satisfied with their jobs. There was an exceptionally small turnover of personnel according to the plant superintendent, making the facility stable and not subject to seasonal shutdowns. Machines, known as the chain machines, used by the workers were extremely accurate and worked on minute tolerances and cost $15,000 each.. They were designed by Segalock engineers and because of the exacting nature of the work, a manual dexterity test was given to all prospective employees."

A spokesman for Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc., noted that the corporation was pleased to add a metal working industry to the Sumter area. The city already had outstanding woodworking and furniture manufacturing industries. The addition of Segalock would have a balancing effect on the local economy. Segal Lock and Hardware Company, which had been in business for 100 years, praised the Sumter Chamber of Commerce for its efforts in making this industrial enterprise a success. The management and local citizenry were convinced that the entire community would benefit from Segalock's investment.

The plant began operation in January of 1950 with the entire zipper output of the Segal Lock Company being consolidated at the new plant. This new facility would allow greater production, shipping its product to all parts of the world, and would eventually employ about 300 persons, mostly women, and produce a pay roll of about $7,500 a week.

Ensuing issues of Reflections will discuss the arrival of Pettibelle Inc., and Pioneer Dress, which later occupied the site initially developed by Sega Lock.