Kelley Engineering invests $6 million, 80 new manufacturing jobs – Independent Mail

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
The same one dollar bill circulating within the Upstate, multiple times, over and over, is a powerful way to boost the local economy.
T.L Hanna and Clemson graduate, Matthew Kelley, is molding his engineering business to keep those dollars circulating and boosting the local economy.
He is expanding operations from Piedmont, and adding 80 new jobs to his new site in Pelzer, with a $6 million investment set to come in the spring of 2023. 
With nearly 90% of his company’s current employees being graduates of a high school, technical school or college based in the Upstate, he’s kept the business local and said it is for good reasons:
“Because of my ties and the Upstate is a booming industry for manufacturing,” said Kelley, president and CEO of Kelley Engineering. “Good school systems, and a great customer base.
“I knew I’d be able to pick up good customers and future employees right here.”
Through AS9100 — an airspace certification — Kelley Engineering has been able to pick up larger, globally-known customers.
Others are reading:  Loose cow corralled near downtown Anderson after escaping from trailer
They have supplied remote helicopter hooks to the National Guard and built electrical enclosures for space launch pads.
Yet, the majority of Kelley Engineering’s customer base is located in the Upstate, and over 90% of their workforce are graduates of an Upstate high school, college or technical school.
None of their business customers exceed 20% of their gross revenue, which means they aren’t reliant on one big customer to drive their business winnings. 
“We are successful because we hire people that want to take ownership of their career goals,” Kelley said. “They trust that working for us for three years, they’ll get as much experience as working for someone else for 10 years.” 
The Anderson-based engineering and manufacturing company is expected to hire welders, CNC machinists, mechanical and controls engineers, Kelley said.
As a freshman at Clemson, Kelley looked forward to establishing what exists today. 
It was only a matter of when, and where.
“I knew I wanted to start my own company in the engineering and manufacturing field,” Kelley said. “I never knew what it meant… until I got to college and I saw what engineers can do.”
When he started his business, eight years after graduating from Clemson, he lived in Greenville, and when it was time to purchase a building, he wanted to get back home to Anderson, Kelley said. 
Back when he was at T.L. Hanna, Kelly got his first job, as a Little League baseball umpire for the Anderson YMCA on East Reed Road.
While calling balls and strikes, one of the families who had children in the league hired Kelley as a landscaper. He etched and designed their lawn until enrolling at Clemson University as a mechanical engineer. 
Prior to graduation, he did his co-op internship at Inergy Automotive.
“I am fascinated with designing equipment,” Kelley said. 
Kelley Engineering’s new building will take vacancy of the former Experimental Fabrics textile plant in Pelzer next spring. 
It is was one of the last functioning textile mills within the Upstate area. 
The old site was purchased back in 1959 by Davis Thomas, who took over the old White Plains school gymnasium after purchasing from Anderson County School District, according to his daughter, Billie Thomas, 70. 
When Davis died in 1996, Billie and her sister, Nancy Sanders, took over the business.
As of today, their business days have come to an end, and while Matthew Kelley was not the highest bidder, they said he was the most suitable for the new building.  
“Just like my father, Matthew started his business in his garage,” Billie said.
The selling of the Experimental Fabrics facility took just over a month, and was sewn by the connection between the two T.L. Hanna graduates. 
“I truly believe God brought us two together,” Billie said. “I trust what he is doing.” 
They both see the benefit of staying local.
“Growing up in Anderson County, I knew this was an awesome community to raise a family,” Kelley said. “But I have also seen how great it is to grow a business.”
A.J. Jackson is a general assignment reporter for the Independent Mail. Email him at with story ideas and leads. 


Leave a Comment