Mojotone LLC has officially set up shop at its new location in Burgaw with the support of Pender County leaders and economic development officials, to both keep the company in Burgaw and move it to a larger space.
Area officials joined Mojotone staff at the musical supply firm's more than 46,000-square-foot building in Burgaw for the official ribbon-cutting for the new location Friday. Mojotone, which has operated in Pender County since 2005, outgrew its previous space, which had been spread between three different buildings.
The company is now located in the Pender Progress Industrial Park at 137 Worth Beverage Drive, a 6.3-acre site in Burgaw. There the company, an amplifier cabinet manufacturer and amplifier parts supplier, has 62 employees that work to build, sell and distribute its products in the United States and Europe.
Mojotone has the ability within the new space to double in size. The company also sells to manufacturers, retail music stores and directly to customers. Some of the artists that use its products include Rush, Eric Clapton, Garth Brooks and Iron Maiden.
"Being in this new building definitely opens up more opportunities for manufacturing and fulfillment services," Michael McWhorter, Mojotone co-owner, said in a Friday news release.
With its high ceilings, the building also enables Mojotone to focus on distribution operations, he said. "It's a big deal to be able to offer 50- to-100-pound speaker boxes and ship them directly to someone else's customers. That's the growth side of our business, and the potential is pretty huge," McWhorter added.
Mojotone reported about 48 employees in June 2017, and today has expanded that base to 62. Company officials added Friday that Mojotone will continue to grow its employee base in the future and is currently hiring.
The company was the first to hire out of Phoenix Hometown Hires, which has recently rebranded to StepUp Wilmington, an organization that focuses on addressing unemployment, poverty and economic instability throughout the Cape Fear region, according to District Attorney Ben David, who was also in attendance at the grand opening Friday.
The company is also the first tenant in phase three of the industrial park in Burgaw, officials said.
"Luckily, we've got land in the back of the building that's already graded for another 40,000 square feet," McWhorter said of future growth down the road.
Mojotone was originally founded in 2000 in Winston-Salem, later moving to Burgaw. The company’s transition to the industrial park property and into the new building (right
), constructed in 2011, has been more than a year in the making.
But officials at Friday's ceremony said that its interior was just dirt before a team of builders went in to outfit the space for Mojotone.
Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development (WBD), said Friday that the economic development group began talking to McWhorter's team several years ago about the potential opportunity to grow his business in Pender County.
"Michael's company has grown fantastically. And we knew that we better do something to keep him here and try to encourage him to grow here. He had a lot of opportunities to do things in a lot of places, but he decided to do it here and we're all going to be better off for it," Satterfield said.
"It's a wonderful company. The growth trajectory is unbelievable. But everybody in here practically has been part of this process," Satterfield added. "This has taken a lot of foresight and a lot of determination ... public sector, the private sector and that's what economic development is all about. It's about putting all the partnerships together that you can to ultimately yield a great result for your community."
Last January, the Pender County Board of Commissioners unanimously accepted a $750,000 bid
from Mojotone for the property and building. Four County Electric Membership Corp. also tapped a $1 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help Mojotone finish the building's interior and prepare it for occupancy.
The funding was provided through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program. Through RDLEG, the USDA provides zero-interest loans and grants to utilities that lend funds to local businesses for projects to create and retain jobs, according to the USDA.
In 2015, Four County EMC used a $2 million REDLG loan to help Acme Smoked Fish Corp., which has a plant at Pender Commerce Park, buy equipment to process and smoke salmon, herring and other fish, a previous USDA news release said.
Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC) said Friday that the company is an example of "leveraging resources for the greater good."
"This a great success," Rouzer said of the company. "A lot of folks out there across this county, across the state and across the country are doing great things from an entrepreneurial perspective. And this is all part of the American dream."