Sumter-based Merchant Iron Works to expand, create new jobs

Metal fabrication company to add 27 jobs, make $2.5M investment


A Sumter-based manufacturer is expanding and will create 27 new jobs.

Merchant Iron Works, 3215 Beulah Cuttino Road, announced Tuesday it is making a $2.5 million capital investment into its facility and will create the additional jobs during a five-year period, roughly half of which will come online within the next year - some are being hired now, according to company president and Sumter resident David Merchant.

Founded locally in 2001 by Merchant, the company is a fabricator and installer of structural steel, miscellaneous metals and material-handling equipment in the industrial and commercial markets.

With the expansion, Merchant said, his company will have a little more than 60 employees at its local facility and is bringing some product manufacturing that it previously outsourced to a supplier out of state into the local facility.

"We have great relationships with our suppliers, and that's the way we've been operating for years, but as we've grown we find a need for faster turnaround at times," Merchant said. "Sometimes, it's easier for us to manage all the different pieces and parts when they are in-house as opposed to otherwise."

Most of the new hires will be production employees - such as welders and machine operators with Computer Numerical Control experience - Merchant said, but a few will also be in management and office staff positions as the company gets bigger.

The capital investment covers an 8,000-square-foot plant expansion, which is already underway, that will bring the facility up to about 40,000 square feet and the acquisition of some new CNC machinery equipment. More construction and new equipment will follow during the five-year time frame, Merchant said.

A $100,000 grant from the Coordinating Council for Economic Development will help with the completion of a 150,000-square-foot outdoor steel processing and shipping area on site, he said.

The metal fabrication company builds the steel supporting frame structures for general contractors that construct industrial plants, grocery stores and other commercial buildings.

Merchant said he's pleased that his company is able to grow.

"It's exciting when you're growing," Merchant said. "We are bringing product back in town that we have been sending out, and that will hopefully offer some employment opportunities for local people."

In addition to being founder and president of Merchant Iron Works, Merchant also is Sumter city councilman for Ward 6. He has held that elected office since 2012.

Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen said he was also pleased for Merchant and the announcement.

"It's more good news for Sumter, and I think especially good news when locally created and owned businesses grow and prosper," McElveen said. "That's really great, and I'm glad he's been able to do that. We are also proud to have David on city council. Obviously, he's a very good businessman, and his business knowledge is invaluable to us."