Sea Pro Boats to relaunch, open plant in Whitmire

Sea Pro Boats to relaunch, open plant in Whitmire

Staff Report
colanews@scbiznews.com
Published July 29, 2015

Sea Pro Boats, which was originally founded in the Midlands and later acquired by another company, announced plans today to invest $5.5 million and open a new plant in Newberry County. The project is expected to create 238 jobs.

The company said it’s returning to the market with “The Next Wave” – a new line of bay boats and center console offshore fishing boats. The new line will feature seven models, which are expected to be introduced by the end of this summer.

Founded in 1987, Sea Pro Boats was purchased by Brunswick Corporation in 2005. In June 2008 as the Great Recession took hold, Brunswick sank the Sea Pro line and closed its Newberry County plant, putting some 175 South Carolinians out of work.

Recently, Jimmy Hancock, one of the original owners of Sea Pro, along with Tidewater Boats’ founder Preston Wrenn, decided to relaunch the company.

Sea Pro’s new headquarters and manufacturing operations will be housed in a 200,000-square-foot building on S.C. Highway 121 in Whitmire that once served as a textile plant. The facility was shuttered in January 2009 by Renfro Corp., idling 600 workers.

Expected to be fully operational in the third quarter of 2015, hiring is anticipated to begin in fall 2015.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be resurrecting Sea Pro Boats in Newberry County, and the outpouring of support from the town of Whitmire has been both humbling and heartwarming,” said Hancock and Wrenn.

The owners also praised the work Newberry County and the South Carolina Department of Commerce did “to help make this dream a reality.”

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved a $100,000 Set Aside grant to Newberry County to assist with costs of acquisition and real property improvements. The council also approved job development credits related to the project.

“Newberry County has a strong history in boat manufacturing, so we all take special pride in this announcement,” said Henry Livingston, chairman of the Newberry County Council. “Combine that with home-grown entrepreneurs locating in a historic rural community like Whitmire, and it becomes even more special.”

Those interested in a job at Sea Pro should contact SC Works.

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