Horry County's newest manufacturer is open for business. PTR Industries began its first day in South Carolina by welcoming its new local employees.
The rifle manufacturer decided last year to move from its home base in Connecticut, after that state's legislature passed restrictive gun laws in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown.
PTR's new building in the Cool Springs Business Park near Aynor is still mostly empty and a few weeks away from being at full production, so the first day on the job for the eleven local workers the company has brought on board so far consisted mostly of having them sort and inventory boxes of gun parts.
But the company plans to have rifle assembly operations up and running by January 20, after a massive move-in and set-up operation.
"We've got our entire crew up in Connecticut, plus a crew of about 40 movers, 32 trucks and everybody's going to be working basically from now until the 20th to get all that done, so it's a project, it's a challenge," said PTR CEO Josh Fiorini.
Fiorini says a second wave of local employees will come on board in February, joining the 21 employees moving here from PTR's current base in Connecticut, to make a total contingent of nearly 50 workers.
He says the company plans to quickly add many more.
"The eventual goal is 120 (employees), short term within the next 3 years."
Stan Parker is among those Horry County residents starting a career with PTR.
Parker says he's long been a gun enthusiast, so being able to make rifles for a living is a dream come true.
He expects the company to have a big impact on the county.
"There's the trickle down effect of the incomes we make, we spend in local businesses," Parker said. "The company's growing, or going to grow. They have projected plans for that. I think it will effect the community as a whole in a positive way."
PTR now has much more room to grow that it did before. The plant is 58,000 square feet under one roof, which means the company can add two new gun models to its product line.
"We've really been kind of sitting on our projects, waiting until we could run with them and now we can," Fiorini said.
Fiorini says he's happy with the local people he's hired so far and with the initial training they've been able to get through the SC Works program and Horry Georgetown Technical College.
About 2,000 people applied for the 30 job openings posted by PTR in November.