Work begins at Horry County’s first firearms manufacturer

01/09/2014 5:55 PM

01/09/2014 4:49 PM

Firearms manufacturer PTR Industries started moving in its new 58,000-square-foot plant near Aynor this week with the help of the first 12 employees it has hired locally.

Roughly six months after the company announced it would move its headquarters and operations from Connecticut to Horry County, the new employees began their careers setting up work stations and unpacking supplies in preparation for the gun assembly that will be their steady work beginning Jan. 20, said John McNamara, PTR’s vice president of sales and administration. Another 13 who have been newly hired will start their jobs the first and second weeks of February.

Over the next five years, the company has pledged to create 145 jobs, including those for the 21 employees who will transfer from the Connecticut plant.

“Ideally, we want to get to 150 within five years,” McNamara said. “We want to grow as quickly as we can.”

PTR is the first of at least two firearms manufacturers that will locate at the Cool Springs Business Park. Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., said Ithaca Gun Co. will start construction on a 20,000-square-foot building for its operations this spring. The company hopes to be in its new building by the end of the year, Lofton said.

Additionally, Lofton said he talks every 10 days or so with Mark Malkowski, CEO of Stag Arms, to see if he has made a decision of where to open a new plant.

Malkowski had narrowed his choices to Horry County or Houston, Texas, last year and originally anticipated a decision in the fall. But Lofton said Malkowski tells him that the decision has been more complicated than the company originally thought and is taking more time to think it through.

“They’re still in the hot prospect category,” Lofton said.

Lofton said he sent Malkowski a gift basket of food and other Horry County goodies for Christmas.

McNamara said some of PTR’s Connecticut employees have already transferred to Horry County and the rest will be here by Jan. 20.

The company has outfitted a spec building at the business park for its own use, and McNamara said it has plenty of space to add new assembly lines for new guns the company could develop.

“We have enough space to do anything we can dream up,” he said.

In addition, Horry County’s budding firearms industry has drawn the attention of some of its suppliers, who have talked with the EDC about setting up operations here as well.

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