MWV Specialty Chemicals setting up distribution hub

MWV Specialty Chemicals is headquartered on Virginia Avenue in North Charleston. It had more than $1 billion in sales last year.

MeadWestvaco Corp.’s chemicals business is partnering with Sunland Logistics Solutions on a chemical distribution site in Goose Creek.

Th venture will ship 1 million pounds of product each day both domestically and internationally through the Port of Charleston, the companies announced this week.

The companies are finishing renovations to a 300,000-square-foot space at 300 Eagle Road that is scheduled to open next month. The facility will include 16,000 square feet of flammable storage and 5,000 square feet of corrosive storage. It is expected to employ about 20 workers.

Sunland is a third-party logistics company with 30 years of experience in the Southeast. The company primarily provides warehouse facilities for the chemical, automotive, retail and paper industries.

Jerry McDowell, assistant plant manager for North Charleston-based MWV Specialty Chemicals, said the partnership with Sunland “is truly a relationship of two companies that share a common, yet special commitment of getting the job done safely while getting the product out to our many valued customers.”

MWV Specialty Chemicals is scheduled to become a separate, publicly traded company by the end of this year. The division employs around 450 workers in the region and more than 1,200 worldwide. It is headquartered on Virginia Avenue, across from the Cooper River paper mill that its Richmond, Va.-based parent company shed in 2008.

The unit makes compounds that are used in printing inks, asphalt paving and adhesives. Other customers include the agricultural, paper and petroleum industries. The business also makes “activated carbon” products that go into automotive emission-control systems and have applications for air, water and food purification.

Sales at the division rose about 6 percent last year to crack the $1 billion mark for the first time.

South Carolina has an estimated 1,501 middle-market firms — defined as those with revenues of between $10 million and $1 billion — according to a Middle Market Power Index that uses Dun & Bradstreet data.

Although such companies make up less than 1 percent of all businesses nationally, they contribute 21 percent of U.S. business revenues and employ more than 28 percent of workers in the private sector, according to the report released last week.

Nationally, there are more than 136,000 middle-market firms, which employ an average of 368 workers and generate $45.1 million per firm per year. South Carolina ranks 33rd out of 50 states for the share of firms in the middle market.

Small businesses, those with revenue of less than $10 million per year, still dominate the landscape in South Carolina, with 215,573 companies. There are 13 large firms — annual revenues of more than $1 billion — in South Carolina, including Boeing Co.

Reach David Wren at 937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_