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In large part, Bamberg County residents can owe the presence of Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing Company Incorporated in their county to a friendship that developed during World War II. “We’re here because Ziggy Hartzog was best friends with my father (Robert Russell Hurst Sr.) from World War II,” Robert Hurst Jr., owner and CEO of Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing told the large group of visitors at the company, Friday morning, for the February, Bamberg Chamber of Commerce Spotlight on Industry.

In 1966, Robert Hurst Sr. gave up his private legal practice in New York and went into the washer business and moved the business that started on February 22, 1907 in New York City to Bamberg and started Phoenix Southern Washer and Gasket Company, Robert Hurst Jr. said.

Hurst noted that now days, the state development board would “pay dearly” to have a company with 90 employees come to South Carolina. “Back then we did it on our own. We’re a family business, we’re glad to be here,” Hurst said noting that he and his sisters and their families all live in Bamberg County.

Today, Phoenix Specialty is in the custom parts and specialty parts business where everything made is custom for a specific piece of equipment it will go on. Today, the company has 90 employees and will make over 30 thousand shipments this year and over 10,000 different types of parts will go out the door to over 2000 different companies.

“We do a lot of parts for a lot of different people, all custom, all made to order.” Aerospace is one of the strict standards the company has been operating under for years, with General Electric (GE) jet engines accounting for 40 percent of the company’s business over the last decade. Hurst noted during discussion of the company that he was “glad” that Boeing Aircraft located a plant in Charleston, South Carolina.

Hurst noted that over the years the company has had its parts in the far reaches of outer space on the lunar project on the moon on the space shuttle, Mars Voyager and in the bottom of the ocean. “It’s somewhat endless where small parts can end up.”

In a question and answer period, Hurst noted that like most companies over the last few years the company was hit by the recess the first half of 2009, which followed a record year in 2008. In 2010 the company was able to call most of its workers that were laid off in 2009 back to work and 2011 was another record year. The fact that the company is able to do orders in a three to eight day window has been to its advantage Hurst noted and he sees manufacturing is on the upswing in this country. “The south has been good to us. We’re glad to be here and we hope to continue to grow the business.”

 
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