Pipe distributor to move tobacco operation to Little River

sjones@thesunnews.comJanuary 8, 2014 

A North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce member sounded the alert last year that resulted in the expansion of a Little River pipe distributor rather than its moving to North Carolina.

“We understood that they wanted to expand and that they were leaning toward moving to North Carolina,” said Marc Jordan, CEO of the North Myrtle Beach chamber.

Laudisi Enterprises announced Wednesday it would stay in Horry County, creating 43 job here. It’s the second company to announce new jobs for Horry County in three weeks. On Dec. 16, StarTek announced it would build a new call center in Carolina Forest and hire 615 people.

Jordan said he was tipped off about Laudisi Enterprises by a chamber member who counted Laudisi Enterprises as one of his customers. He didn’t want to lose the business and asked Jordan to intervene.

When Jordan talked with the business, he said its officers weren’t aware of the incentives they could get by expanding here. Jordan brought in Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., and after a conversation with the company, the direction of its future changed.

Not only will the company get state tax credits for the jobs it creates, but the EDC chipped in $50,000 to help with the move.

Rather than moving its pipe distribution operation to North Carolina, the company decided to relocate its smoking tobacco manufacturing business to Horry County, said Sykes Wilford, Laudisi president.

Wilford said Laudisi will create 43 jobs in Horry County over the next five years, a handful which will be filled by employees transferring from North Carolina and the rest filled locally.

Three of those jobs are currently open and people who want them are asked to submit applications at www.smokingpipes.com/information/jobs/index.cfm or send a resume to jobs@laudisi.com.

Wilford said the company offers competitive wages and has good benefits. He said the company is a tech savvy, fun place to work.

“In many ways, we’re like a dot com,” he said.

Wilford praised the efforts of the EDC to keep the company in Horry County. He said Laudisi was offered incentives to move by North Carolina, but couldn’t remember what they were.

The smoking tobacco operation is currently located in Burke County, N.C., in the western part of the state. He said the company buys tobacco through agents and then processes it.

“They cut it, they blend it,” he said.

Sometimes, the operation will flavor the tobacco before it is sold.

Wilford said it likely will be a year before the tobacco operation is moved to Horry County.

Jordan said Laudisi has a small retail operation now, and if you didn’t know better, you might think that was all they did. But the majority of its business comes from online sales, he said.

The company is looking at an existing building where it can expand, Jordan said.

Wilford said the prospect of uprooting its Little River employees and moving them to North Carolina wasn’t all that attractive. The company has been in Little River for 10 years and that’s home, he said.

Jordan too is glad the company, which is a North Myrtle Beach chamber member, is staying put.

“They didn’t want to relocate,” he said, “but they really needed to expand.”

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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