Kimberly-Clark mill in Beech Island celebrating 50th anniversary
A milestone has been reached in Beech Island.
The Kimberly-Clark Corporation’s mill in the local community is celebrating its 50th anniversary Thursday and Friday with invitation only site tours, a car show, a special meal and a donation drive for local charities.
Operations began there in 1968, three years after the company revealed its plan to purchase an industrial site in Aiken County.
The Palmetto State’s governor at the time, Robert E. McNair, said the Kimberly-Clark announcement “lends excitement to the present and hope to the future for South Carolina’s economic potential.”
A statement by Aiken County’s legislative delegation described the news as “the finest thing that has happened to our county in recent years.”
Today, the mill has approximately 1,900 full-time workers. Around 1,200 are Kimberly-Clark employees and the rest are under contract to provide services.
The facility manufactures products for a variety of Kimberly-Clark brands, including Huggies Diapers, Pull-Ups training pants, GoodNites bed-wetting underwear, Cottonelle and Scott bathroom tissue, Scott and Viva paper towels, Kleenex facial tissue and Cottonelle and Scott flushable wipes.
The mill is one of the largest employers locally.
“We are proud to call Aiken County home and salute our employees for their commitment to deliver innovative products to customers and consumers over the past 50 years,” said Simon Woods, manager of the Beech Island mill, in a prepared statement.
The Kimberly-Clark facility was the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 large business of the year.
“Kimberly-Clark has been one of those types of companies that every community wants to recruit,” said Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Jameson. “Since they have arrived in Aiken County, they have steadily grown. They have invested, reinvested and modernized, and then they have reinvested again. They pay a good wage, they have very little turnover, and they are a good corporate citizen.”
Based on information provided by Will Williams, president of the Economic Development Partnership of Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda counties, Kimberly-Clark has invested more than $1.5 billion to upgrade its Beech Island mill in the last 20 years.
“Obviously they provide local jobs, and they diversify our tax base,” Williams said. “But they’re also very good with their time and their resources in terms of making Aiken County a better place. Just about every charitable effort in Aiken County has Kimberly-Clark’s name attached to it because they are sponsoring it or because their employees are involved in putting it on.”
According to a Kimberly-Clark press release issued Nov. 8, Beech Island mill employees have donated $3 million to the United Way locally “over the past 10 years.”
The facility also has a leadership role in organizing an annual Engineering Week that supports STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs in area schools and engages more than 1,000 children each year.
“They obviously have been a good corporate citizen for a very long time,” said Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian of Kimberly-Clark. “We appreciate all their investment in the community and the jobs they have provided for our folks. I think everybody that I’ve talked to that has worked for Kimberly-Clark thinks it’s a great place to work. They’re very happy to be Kimberly-Clark employees.”
The Beech Island mill is “at the forefront” of Kimberly-Clark’s sustainability initiatives, according to the company’s release. The facility uses reclaimed landfill gas to generate steam for its operations and “has received global recognition” for its efforts to recycle and use water in its production processes, which saves more than 200 million gallons of fresh water annually.
Through its recycling programs, the Beech Island mill “has reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills by 95 percent and is working toward a zero waste goal,” the release stated.