A German maker of specialty paints and other high-end industrial coatings is expanding, four years after setting up a small operation in Charleston.

The $15 million investment by Mankiewicz Coatings LLC is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015, said Peter Dietz, managing director.

The company recently purchased a vacant 25,000-square-foot commercial building on about 10 acres in Charleston Regional Business Center off Clements Ferry Road for $2.5 million.

Mankiewicz said it plans to develop the vacant land and add a research-and-development laboratory, a paint production facility, a logistics center and a training hub to teach customers about new application technologies.

Dietz said the U.S. subsidiary has doubled its revenue since opening in Berkeley County, making the new investment "an easy decision" for German owner Michael Grau.

"After increasing local production and relocating to Charleston, we were able to demonstrate to our customers the commitment to the U.S. market," Dietz said. "The proximity to the Charleston seaport, the ability to produce locally and the access to southern truck routes to reach our customers on the West Coast finally paid out."

Mankiewicz makes protective coatings used in airplanes, automobiles, boats, laptop computers, agricultural machinery and office equipment. It's had a plant in the Upstate for about 17 years. Its customers include Boeing Co. and BMW.

The company's existing Charleston operation was set up to handle chemicals and other materials that Mankiewicz ships to and from its 119-year-old Hamburg-based parent, Mankiewicz Gebr. & Co.

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The new building its Jessen Lane LLC purchased from Wells Fargo is at 1200 Charleston Regional Parkway. It formerly housed NanoScreen, a maker of automated liquid-handling equipment, according to Mark Erickson of Cushman & Wakefield|Thalhimer, who brokered the sale for the bank. NanoScreen has relocated to Hanahan.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.