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Devro Ribbon Cutting

Gene Zaleski/T&D

Sausage casing producer Devro Inc., county and state economic development and political leaders cut the ribbon Thursday morning on the company’s new Sandy Run facility. The company invested $74 million to create the state-of-the art facility.

SANDY RUN -- Excitement and the smell of hot dogs filled the air Thursday morning as sausage-casing producer Devro Inc. celebrated the grand opening of its new production plant.

"This investment secures the future of our facility in South Carolina," Devro Americas President Bill McGowan told company representatives, customers, community officials and employees at the ribbon cutting for the plant's 110,000-square-foot facility on Old Swamp Road.

"This will enable us to continue to provide jobs in Calhoun County for many years to come,” he said.

Devro has operated in Calhoun County since 1996. It broke ground on the new plant in March 2014.

The company, headquartered in Scotland, spent $74 million to expand its Old Swamp Road operations to facilitate the company’s growth strategy.

The plant is operating four new production lines. Based on market growth, Devro will have the possibility of expanding to 12 lines.

Devro began training team members on the new technology in the fourth quarter of 2014 at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.

No new jobs were created, but the investment is expected to increase production efficiency. The Sandy Run plant employs approximately 235.

The new equipment could save the company about $14 million annually, company officials say.

The company had been operating in a 38-year-old facility. The existing plant will continue to be used in some capacity until the new plant is fully operational.

McGowan said the new plant begins a new journey in the United States that will have a global impact.

"This investment has transformed ... our facility into a high-speed, highly efficient plant that is establishing the foundation for our future," McGowan said.

The investment is the largest in the company's history.

McGowan praised the company's employees for coming through the transition from the old facility to the new.

"This was a herculean task," McGowan said.

Devro supplies collagen casings for a variety of sausages and other meat products.

In celebration of the company's success, Columbia-based Southern Way Catering provided the lunch which included a variety of sausage-based dishes including grilled Gwaltney hot dogs, sausage and black beans and jambalaya. Slim Jims served as a centerpiece snack at each table.

Devro was presented South Carolina, United States and United Kingdom flags to fly at its new facility.

Calhoun County Councilman John Nelson promised his and council's support to the company should they need anything in the future.

"We will be there with you and for you," Nelson said.

Calhoun County Development Commission Executive Director Pat Black described the event as a “grand occasion.”

"Today is Devro's day," Black said. "Devro is a very interesting and unique company. It is an intermediary company. There is no Devro sausage, there are no Devro brand hot dogs or frankfurters ... not even a Devro factory outlet here in Sandy Run.

“But Devro is a company that sits quietly on the banks of the Congaree River providing food products for the world."

Black said the international company could have chosen any place in the world to locate but chose Sandy Run and Calhoun County.

"This is not the end of the story. We pledge to continue to work with Devro,” he said.

Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, and Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, promised their support to Devro.

"Thank you for reinvesting in God's country," Setzler said. "This is the greatest place in the globe to be located. The most important part of this announcement is that you send a message across the globe it is important, it is good, it is right to reinvest in South Carolina."

Devro employs more than 2,200 people worldwide. It has manufacturing sites in the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Australia.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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