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Charleston Business

The Business Narrative: More Jobs!

Feb 07, 2024 02:46PM ● By Donna Walker

ZF Plans $500 Million Investment, Brings Next Generation Mobility to Gray Court

ZF continues its pursuit of Next Generation Mobility across passenger car as well as the spectrum of light, medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles with a planned $500 million investment in its Gray Court, South Carolina, facility. 


The investment is expected to create 400 jobs, company officials said.


Offering everything from traditional ICE to e-mobility technologies, for both passenger car and commercial vehicle applications, ZF Gray Court is officially the company’s first North American flex manufacturing facility.


Officials said that since its inception in 2010, the story of Gray Court is one of continuous growth through the introduction of high quality and highly advanced technologies for the mobility industry.


“As the industries we serve evolve, so too does ZF Gray Court, which is once again at the center of mobility transformation,” said ZF Board Member Stephan von Schuckmann.


He added, “ZF Gray Court is our North American premier flex manufacturing facility – producing technologies for today and tomorrow, but also for both passenger vehicles as well as commercial vehicles. This site is our first ever to mirror the transition that the industry and the world is now navigating.”


Through the planned investment, ZF will add new product lines in Gray Court over the next several years, including the launch of the 8HP Gen4 PHEV already on the BMW 7 Series and X5.


Through PHEV technology, drivers are offered pure electric driving, and in addition, a highly efficient internal combustion system.


“For today’s drivers this means they can contribute to a greener planet while reaping the benefits of increased fuel economy without having to rely on a charging infrastructure – it’s really a win-win,” von Schuckmann said.


He added, “ZF PHEV transmissions are currently produced in Germany, but I’m excited to announce that for our North American customers, this product will be manufactured in Gray Court beginning in 2025, as part of our local-for-local strategy. However, this is just one part of our vision. ZF plans to enter the next phase of transformation, as we seek federal funding.”


Powerful electric motors are integrated into the transmission housing of the ZF 8HP Gen4, enabling pure electric driving performance of up to 160 kilowatts and a torque of 450 Nm – almost double the previous 8- speed generation.


“Depending on the battery dimensions of our customers, we can easily achieve an all-electric range of more than 75 miles with our latest-generation 8-speed plug-in hybrid, and further electric range means reduced CO2 emissions,” said von Schuckmann.


He added, “The 8HP Gen4 PHEV’s efficiency means electric drives will be the main propulsion for plug-in hybrids in the future compared to combustion engines, and will significantly reduce the ‘range anxiety’ of many drivers on the road to electrified mobility. And if it should be a longer journey, then the efficient combustion engine supports the electric drive to reach the desired destination in a relaxed manner.”


Investing in a clean, safe and sustainable future ZF is embracing a sustainable future and has set a goal to be fully climate neutral by 2040.


That includes not only the internal workings and outputs of the company, but also a commitment to helping the mobility ecosystem’s long-term sustainability with alternative powertrain configurations.


To support its sustainability goals, in 2020 ZF announced it will be dedicating research and development efforts toward hybrid and electric vehicle components and systems.


It also established a strategy that includes reducing the use of products and materials that cause greenhouse gases, focusing on recycling, reuse and remanufacturing and Gray Court, officials said, is a shining example of those efforts.


“Today we are recognizing ZF’s Gray Court is our North American center of manufacturing excellence,” said von Schuckmann. “Focused on advanced manufacturing, automation, training and sustainable initiatives, Gray Court is helping position ZF, and the industries we serve, for the future. And that future is bright as ZF has pledged an additional $500 million toward the launch of new sustainable technologies here at Gray Court.”


ZF is a global technology company supplying systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology.

Gryphon Investors to Sell HEPACO to Clean Harbors for $400 Million

Gryphon Investors, a leading middle-market private equity firm, said it has signed an agreement to sell HEPACO, LLC, to Clean Harbors Inc. (NYSE: CLH), a leading provider of environmental and industrial services, in a transaction valued at $400 million.


Officials said the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.


Gryphon initially invested in the HEPACO in August 2016 and completed seven add-on acquisitions during its ownership.


Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., HEPACO is a provider of emergency response and scheduled environmental services. HEPACO's offerings include critical emergency response, field and industrial services, and environmental remediation.


The company's clients stem from a variety of industries, including transportation, utilities, and energy. HEPACO operates out of 40+ service centers throughout the Eastern United States, with approximately 1,000 employees.


HEPACO has locations in South Carolina, including Greenville and Charleston, according to its website.


Piper Sandler Companies and Houlihan Lokey, Inc. served as financial advisors to HEPACO, while Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Moore & Van Allen PLLC acted as legal advisors to the company.

Viking Mergers & Acquisitions Facilitates Acquisition of Advanced Concrete Cutting & Coring Inc.

Viking Mergers & Acquisitions announced the acquisition of Ladson, South Carolina-based Advanced Concrete Cutting & Coring Inc. (ACCC) by new owners Jim James and Garrett Little.


Founded in 2000 by Greg Lynch, ACCC has established itself as a leader in concrete-cutting services across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. The company has played a significant role in major projects like the Boeing Dreamliner Plant and the Georgia Ports Authority.


Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


Under Lynch's guidance, ACCC has grown to over 70 employees. As Lynch steps into retirement, the company transitions into the hands of James and Little.


Ben Knight, Viking M&A's managing partner in Charleston, South Carolina, facilitated the acquisition.


Viking provides exit strategies and M&A services to middle-market business owners.


In business since 1996, 70 percent of Viking's advisors are former business owners. Viking said it has an 85 percent close rate, representing over 850 successful transactions.

Charleston-North Charleston, SC, Among Milken Institute’s 2024 Annual Ranking of Best-Performing Cities

Austin, Texas, has demonstrated the best performance among large cities, according to the 2024 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities (BPC) Index, taking the top spot after an impressive three-year run by Provo–Orem, Utah.


Among small cities, Idaho Falls, Idaho maintained the first position this year after earning the same spot in last year’s rankings. The cities’ rankings were fostered by strong job and wage growth and a robust high-tech presence.


Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina, were named in the Large US Cities: Tier I category.


The index, published annually since 1999, reflects cities’ effectiveness at leveraging their resources to promote economic growth and provide their residents with access to the essential services and infrastructure needed for success.


The index measures economic vitality in 200 large metropolitan areas and 203 small metropolitan areas by assessing performance of the labor market, tech sector, and access to economic opportunities.


The 2024 version of the index emphasizes jobs, wages, high-tech growth, housing affordability, and broadband coverage, in addition to newly incorporated metrics of community resilience and income inequality.


To ensure that population size doesn't skew results, the index divides U.S. metropolitan areas into large and small cities, which are then classified into five tiers, with Tier 1 being the highest-ranked cities and Tier 5 being the lowest-ranked cities.


2024 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index


Austin–Round Rock, TX
Raleigh, NC
Boise City, ID
Salt Lake City, UT
Provo–Orem, UT
Nashville–Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN
Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers, AR–MO
Dallas–Plano–Irving, TX
Olympia–Tumwater, WA
Charlotte–Concord—Gastonia, NC–SC
Charleston-North Charleston, SC.



Idaho Falls, ID
Coeur d'Alene, ID
Gainesville, GA
St. George, UT
Twin Falls, ID
Bend–Redmond, OR
Pocatello, ID.

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