Kent began production of its Bicycle Corporation of America (BCA) line at the Manning facility this week. The initial commitment will be to handle Walmart’s needs for their spring 2015 launch.
Governor Nikki Haley and representatives from across the region were present during the announcement and joined the celebration. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kent announced its plans to double the amount of production and assembly than it had originally projected, from a half-million to more than a million bikes over the next four years. The company also expects to hire more than 200 employees to work in the 200,000 sq. ft. facility.
“We are seeing the economics of domestic sourcing changing due to increased energy and transportation costs overseas,” said Arnold Kamler, Chairman and CEO of Kent International. “We have developed a long-term approach and are taking action to create our own manufacturing hub onsite by encouraging companies to move component part production here.”
Kent presently outsources all of its bicycle production overseas (approximately 3 million bikes last year) due to the lower costs of production and has no plans to cut back on their importation. Instead, the plan is to fuel their growth through bicycles which will be assembled and produced in South Carolina. The plan is to source as much as 60-70% of the components parts in the USA by 2018. At the present time, virtually all of the component parts are being imported from Taiwan and China. Kent’s new line produced in South Carolina will be called “BCA” – Bicycle Corporation of America and will be the first mass production of bicycles sold in the USA in more than 15 years.
Kamler told South Carolina Radio Network they chose South Carolina because the state had a lot to offer. “The real estate here was great. The utilities cost were great.”
In addition to Walmart, the Parsippany, NJ-based company is also a major supplier to Toys R’ Us, Amazon and Academy Sports & Outdoors.