LOCKHART — Lockhart Power Company and its parent company, Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, Inc., broke ground Thursday on the power company’s new corporate office building, to be located next to the company’s current office facility at 420 River St. in Lockhart.
The ceremony began with a welcome from Lockhart Power COO Bryan Stone as he introduced special guests, which included Lockhart School student body president Hunter Plemmons, who led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. Following the pledge, the Lockhart Middle School Choir — led by director Leigha Pace — sang “America the Beautiful.”
Stone then mentioned that many who were present were gathered in the same place approximately one year ago for the kickoff of Lockhart Power’s centennial celebration. Over the course of a year, the company celebrated its 100 years of service by transitioning to a new company logo; planting 100 trees at key locations in communities served by the company; a 100 percent increase in local charitable contributions; support of numerous public events at which the company served countless free centennial seal cakes including festivals, parades, barbecue contests and major fundraisers in Union, Jonesville, Lockhart and Pacolet; a redesigned and improved www.lockhartpower.com website; and the donation of $100,000 to Union County for economic development, which was used for the new Gonvauto industrial facility.
“I also mentioned at last year’s Centennial Kickoff that we had grown from one to six generation plants over just a five-year period, and that we planned to have eight plants in service within a year,” Stone said. “That year is now past, and I’m very pleased to announce that we have in fact recently started up our eighth generation plant.”
“We are excited to break ground today on new corporate offices to move Lockhart Power into another 100 years of service,” said Richard Webel, President of Pacolet Milliken.
Stone pointed out one example of the company looking forward.
“As a result of our tremendous growth in generation plants, we have created a number of jobs, despite the poor economy,” Stone said. “Since we were already extremely limited on office space due to being co-located with a hydro plant, we recognized the need for a new, dedicated office building.”
Stone said the design and redesign efforts of the building were to ensure a balance of aesthetic appeal, functionality, cost effectiveness and environmental consciousness.
The 6,600-square-foot office building will provide three distinct functions: new administrative offices, a new customer service center and a company meeting room. The administrative offices will accommodate the corporate growth Lockhart Power has experienced in recent years as it has expanded from a single source of generation to eight generation plants located throughout the upper half of the state. The customer service center will provide better building access to customers by virtue of a parking lot located immediately adjacent to the building, and will provide a superior customer experience when the need arises for face-to-face interaction with Lockhart’s customer service professionals. The company meeting room will serve as a multi-functional space for everything from company events to public stakeholder meetings.
Stone mentioned that design details include the reuse of bricks from the Excelsior Union Mill — the first mill that was under the direction of the late Roger Milliken — serving as a nod to the past and recognizing the place of mills in the community. Stone also mentioned the renewable energy produced at the adjacent hydroelectric plant will power the new building.
Stone said the new office space will reflect Lockhart Power’s values in that it will be modest while tasteful, functional but with good form, and cost effective yet environmentally friendly.
“The building design reflects the best of modern practices in a way that blends with our past,” Stone said. “For example, the entry tower, arched windows and antique bricks are all design elements that give a nod to our mill village heritage and coordinate nicely with the adjacent 1920 hydroelectric plant and 1930s vintage steam plant buildings.”
Stone said the company is excited to be able to accommodate its growth in a manner that also improves customer service and broadens the tax base for the benefit of the community.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.