Koch & Company ramping up to build cabinets at rennovated facility

When Jim Koch was a teenager in Baileyville, Kansas, he already knew he loved working with wood. He and his eight siblings grew up on a farm where hard work and dedication were instilled in them by their parents.

While driving a tractor and working the fields, Jim would daydream about woodworking projects. After work and on weekends, he and his brother Dan would take lumber and try to create things. “When we were in high school, we made cedar chests and sold them,” said Jim Koch (pronounced Cook) recently. “I just loved the craftmanship.”

When he was 20 years old, Jim and Dan with the support of their uncle Fred joined forces to start a company in 1989. “Since 1993, we figured it out and haven’t looked back.”

Now Koch and his brother Barry are the driving force behind Koch & Company which makes fine cabinets and doors at 11 plants, all in the United States. On Thursday, May 26, he and Tricia, his wife of 36 years, cut a bright blue ribbon on the newest cabinet division in Barnwell located at 11200 Dunbarton Boulevard.

Joining the celebration were representatives from the Southern Palmetto Chamber of Commerce, SouthernCarolina Alliance, Barnwell County Council, Barnwell Mayor and City Council, Can Am Sales Inc., and staff.

The Barnwell plant will produce the Midland line of cabinetry for the Koch Cabinets division of Koch & Co. Their corporate headquarters is in Seneca, Kansas, and manufacturing facilities in various locations throughout Kansas and eastern Tennessee.

The Barnwell plant will offer more access to customers along the eastern U.S. coast, according to company officials.

“Our products are made in America and almost everything in our operation is made in America,” said Koch. “I refuse to buy from China.”

The result has been that Koch & Company has not experienced the supply chain issues other companies have faced in recent years. Koch & Company also owns its own trucking division and hauls 90 percent of their own product.

The “new” Barnwell facility is known to locals as “the old Sara Lee sock plant” which has not been utilized in decades. Just like his daydreaming of woodworking, Jim said he and his brother immediately saw potential in the 250,000 square-foot building when they were shown the building by SouthernCarolina Alliance. “It was perfect for our needs,” said Koch.

Despite a lot of repairs to be made, Koch said, renovations are moving along. “We’re excited,” he said.

Koch & Co employs 915 employees throughout its locations and is planning to add 105 jobs in the Barnwell community within the next few years. Hiring has already started locally and initial cabinet production is expected to start next month, said Koch at the ribbon cutting.

Koch stated, “Our corporate headquarters is in rural Kansas so rural South Carolina is a good fit for us.”

He also said they were impressed by the cleanliness and hometown feel of the Barnwell community. Koch said many members of his family work in the company and they have striven to make their staff feel like family.

He also went on to say, “The Barnwell City, County, community, vendors, the Southern Palmetto Regional Chamber, SouthernCarolina Regional Alliance, the South Carolina Economic Developers Association, South Carolina Department of Commerce and Ready SC have been extremely helpful. We are excited to be part of this community.”

For more information regarding jobs at Koch Cabinets of Barnwell please visit www.kochandco.com/employment.