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Santuc Precision has come a long way in the past 35 years

When local industries need machining work done, chances are they call on Santuc Precision. Santuc Precision does replacement and repair machine work for textile and material handling companies, among others. Its regular customers include most of the industrial companies in Union County, others in the Upstate and reaching as far as Illinois and Nebraska.

Santuc Precision traces its roots back more than 35 years, when Eddie Hines started a machining business in a utility room in his house in Santuc. Much of his business came from the textile industry. Hines' son, Joey, and Steven "Zebco" Sealy, a 24-year employee, purchased the shop in January 2011.

Even with the decline in textiles, the two saw a tremendous opportunity in the form of quick turnaround, job shop machining. As part of the branding and retooling process they changed the company's name to Santuc Precision, paying tribute to where Hines lived and operated the business. Sealy is president/general manager of the company; Hines is vice president and in charge of business development.

In June 2011, Hines and Sealy purchased H&H Metal Products, which was founded in 1960 as Union Tool & Stamping. They saw the opportunity to retool and grow both businesses as one.

Their next step was to consolidate the two operations under one roof. Hines Machine Shop was housed in a 4,000-square-foot metal building and H&H Metal Products was in a 13,000-square-foot facility on Porter Street.

Last year, when Union County Printworks relocated to North Carolina, it left behind a 40,000-square-foot building on Highpoint Drive that Hines and Sealy felt would fit their needs. They started working on acquiring the property in the early fall and finally closed on the building on March 22.

The next challenge was moving the machinery, tools and pieces of metal to the new location. During an eight-week period, it took10 tractor-trailer loads and eight 26-foot box truck loads, along with many pickup truck and trailer loads to move everything, Hines said. Ten forklifts and two cranes were brought in from Greenville to help move the equipment. The last load arrived on May 28.

Production didn't stop during the move, however. Customers depended on Santuc Precision to complete their orders on time, Sealy said.

Hines and Sealy say they plan to lease about half of the building, but first they have to sort through what they have and then decide what they want to keep and what they want to sell. Once that is done, the next step is to obtain ISO (International Standards Organization) 9001 certified, which opens the door to more business, Hines said. Plans call for an additional two-day training session in July, followed by an audit and registration. Money for the ISO certification came from a Rapid Response Grant from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

Santuc Precision is looking into joining the S.C. Health Insurance Cooperative, whose membership includes about 400 companies with 2,000 participants, to get group insurance rates for its employees, Hines said. Santuc Precision employs 12 people, some of who came through the co-op program at Union High School, like Hines and Sealy. Workers are cross-trained so they can rotate from machine to machine and not get burned out by working on one piece of equipment, Hines said.

Machine shop work can be lucrative - a skilled machinist can earn $50,000 or more a year, working a 40-hour week, Hines said.

PHOTOS: Steven Joey Hines shows off work Steven "Zebco" Sealy did for ESAB using the square block of material below it. / "Zebco" Sealy and Joey Hines stand in front of Santuc Precision's new location on Highpoint Drive in Union.

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