Charleston has topped the lists of global, luxury travel magazines as the Best U.S. City for the past 10 years. This discerning visitor demand makes this community attractive as a business location as well. The region’s fast-growing automotive manufacturing sector has added a new key player, Arkonik Ltd. This world leader in creating custom Land Rover Defenders for the most exacting American and Canadian clients has selected Charleston for its first U.S. location and North American headquarters.
Established in 2006 and headquartered in the United Kingdom, Arkonik Ltd., specializes in the restoration and customization of Land Rover Defenders for customers all over the world. With a workforce of more than 70 at its Bath, England headquarters facility, Arkonik anticipates steady growth potential for its new Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) location in the City of Charleston in Berkeley County, South Carolina.
Arkonik SVO will serve as the company’s flagship operation for engine and transmission upgrades. Arkonik SVO has been developed for two reasons: to offer clients an array of upgrades appropriate for today’s Defender driver and to provide a physical presence in North America where clients can test drive the vehicles, meet the team, and discuss their custom options face to face. An electric vehicle platform is planned for 2021.
“Less than a year ago, within the foundry of Arkonik’s ambitions, a brand-new objective was cast: locate and develop a U.S. business hub from which to better serve our North American clients. Multiple prospective locations in various states were considered, visited, and then reviewed. In the final analysis, no other setting came close to offering the unique home we felt Charleston could provide. Arkonik is thrilled to call Charleston home.” said Arkonik Ltd. CEO Andy Hayes.
In January 2020, Arkonik secured a lease on a facility located at 2300 Clements Ferry Road in Berkeley County. The company suspended operations shortly thereafter due to COVID travel restrictions. With social distancing and safety protocols in place, renovations will begin immediately to accommodate a fully operational shop, and a customer design and delivery center. Arkonik SVO expects to hire 5 to 10 employees within the next five years, including mechanical and electrical technicians, and administrative support.
“In helping Arkonik become established on U.S. soil, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance and Rebecca Ford have consistently provided expert guidance and balanced advice. They have made it fun and they have made it easy. That Rebecca would choose to join Arkonik as our Managing Director is a tremendous and fortunate turn of events.” – Arkonik Ltd. CEO Andy Hayes
Rebecca “Becky” Ford has been hired to run the SVO unit in North America. Currently a Director of Global Business Development for the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Becky will assume her leadership role as Arkonik SVO Managing Director effective July 1, 2020.
Arkonik is the eighth company to locate here as part of South Carolina Department of Commerce’s and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance’s Landing Pad program, which is designed to support global companies as they enter the U.S. market, often simplifying what could be an overwhelming experience and minimizing risks through the process.
“Charleston’s highly-skilled workforce, business-friendly climate, and globally-connected infrastructure like the Port of Charleston, influenced the company’s decision to locate here to better serve its customers. Arkonik SVO will be a tremendous asset to our growing automotive cluster,” said Charleston Regional Development Alliance Board Chairman John Hagerty.
With over 250 builds to their name, Arkonik is the world leader in creating custom Land Rover Defenders for the most exacting American and Canadian clients. Working with D90 and D110 models, each vehicle that receives the Arkonik treatment will be of a 15-25 year old vintage, depending on its destination. Arkonik performs a full restoration whilst retaining as much of the original vehicles as possible, to render a ‘better than new’ vehicle tailored to clients’ specifications. Their mission has evolved over the last 14 years, but the founding principle has remained constant; to create the most authentic, restored Land Rover Defenders in the world. Defenders that are as influential and inspirational as their clients. Arkonik’s adventurous and intrepid founder Andy Hayes has instilled the mantra ‘we are excellence’ into every employee since the company’s humble beginnings.
About Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA)
Charleston Regional Development Alliance is a professional economic development organization representing Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties in South Carolina. With a large and growing network of business, academic and governmental partners, CRDA directly assists companies with competitive location or expansion projects by connecting them with the right people, the appropriate resources and the most meaningful and relevant information. CRDA promotes the Charleston region’s business, academic, and lifestyle strengths worldwide to attract the world’s best companies, entrepreneurs and professional talent. Ultimately, the goal is to strengthen regional employment, build our base of high-value industries, and significantly improve the economic future for all who live and work in the greater Charleston area.