Wabco planning $2.5M expansion

Wabco Compressor Manufacturing is planning a $2.5 million expansion into Dorchester County

Wabco Holdings Inc., which already has a manufacturing facility in North Charleston, is planning a $2.5 million plant off Patriot Boulevard in Dorchester County.

The new facility, to be discussed during Dorchester County Council’s next meeting on Feb. 17, will create 50 new jobs, according to county documents.

A spokeswoman for Wabco, a Belgium-based company that makes parts for trucks and buses worldwide, did not respond to a request for comment.

The company already employs about 95 people in North Charleston at its air compressor manufacturing site on Leeds Avenue.

Jacques Esculier, Wabco’s chairman and CEO, first talked about the need for more room in the Charleston area during a conference call with analysts last summer. Esculier said a growing demand for products in North America and financial incentives to move overseas manufacturing to NAFTA countries is spurring more investment here.

“So where we are right now is probably kind of updating, upgrading our operation in the Charleston area where we manufactured the bulk of the compressors we delivered (to customers),” he said.

Dorchester County is considering an incentives package that includes charging Wabco a fee instead of property taxes that is equal to 6 percent of the property’s fair-market value. Industrial properties usually are assessed at a 10.5 percent rate. The county also will use some of the fee Wabco pays to help fund infrastructure for the expansion. The incentives package already has received two of three approvals needed by County Council. The investment previously had been referred to under the code name “Project Road Runner” by county officials.

Wabco Holdings, which builds parts and develops technology to improve the safety of commercial vehicles, is the majority owner of the North Charleston operation in a joint venture with Cummins Engine Co.

Wabco is scheduled to release its year-end earnings Feb. 13. For the first nine months of 2014, the company recorded net income of $234.2 million compared with $244.3 million for the same period a year earlier.