MARION AREA, SC (WBTW) — A pool company has purchased the former Groupe Beneteau boat facility just outside Marion, as it prepares to roll out its products from the plant soon.
The deal officially went through Monday, according to CEO and Co-Founder of Leisure Pools Group David Pain.
“Over the last couple of year, our growth has been quite aggressive,” Pain said. “Particularly with COVID-19, we’ve actually seen an even further pickup from sales.”
Leisure Pools Group is one of the world’s largest fiberglass swimming pool manufacturers.
The company’s new Marion facility will specialize in pools, underground fuel tanks, underground water storage tanks and other things.
Pain said the company had been looking for an east coast facility for a couple months, and the former Groupe Beneteau facility is a good fit for several reasons.
“It’s quite well located, closer to the ports,” Pain said. “Location-wise it was good. On 40 acres, we need a lot of land to store our products, because they’re big bulky products. The facility itself it was 225,000 square feet, a lot of overhead cranes. A lot of clear space.”
Pain said that among the staff is among the most valuable assets offered by the site.
The company plans to make at least 70 hires in the coming months, many of which are expected to be of Beneteau workers. Around 200 total jobs are expected to be generated by Leisure in Marion over the next few years.
“One of the greatest challenges we’re finding is to find good quality staff,” Pain said. “One of the most attractive parts to it was that there was 172 staff there that had been building quality, composite sailing boats for in excess of 30 years.”
“When we approached Groupe Beneteau, really part of the transaction was to try and onboard as many of the staff as possible.”
Groupe Beneteau has had operations at its Marion County facility since the 1980s. The company announced in July the facility would be going into what it called hibernation. At the time, the boat manufacturer said it was going to gradually shut down operations at the Marion County plant from Sept. 16 through Nov. 30.
Executive Director of the Marion County Economic Development Commission Dr. Julie Norman said Leisure’s purchase of the plant is a big win for the county.
“This came as a really pleasant surprise,” Dr. Norman said. “We had to act quickly because we knew that as of Sept. 16, a lot of the Beneteau employees were going to be let go. And we wanted to retain them.”
Dr. Norman said she expects Marion County to make further progress in the months to come.
“We have more on the horizon that we expect to announce by the end of the year and they’re all manufacturing and distribution,” she said. “So I think we’re going to continue to see growth in Marion County.”
Leisure Pools Group said it hopes to have production going from Marion within the next two weeks. Those interested in a job can visit this site.