Shutterfly opens Fort Mill operation

dworthington@heraldonline.comJune 21, 2013 

Shutterfly opened its York County operations in Fort Mill in 2013. Shown here, Bridgett Williams examines photo books before they are shipped to customers.


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— Patrons of Trader Marc’s flea market near Fort Mill came to find treasures others had cast off, buying them to create new memories.

The flea market, housed in a portion of a 303,000-square-foot plant that duplicated VCR tapes, closed in July 2011.

Friday, Shutterfly held its grand opening at the same site with the same focus: creating memories.

The company has gutted the space to create a customer service, production and distribution facility for its four product lines: Shutterfly, which makes prints and photo books; Tinyprints, which makes cards and stationery; Treat, which makes greeting cards; and Wedding Paper Divas, which makes wedding invitations.

For each line, Shutterfly offers a variety of services, either doing the work for its clients or allowing patrons to customize every aspect of the product. The company stores photos for free, estimating it has more than 20 billion images in “cloud” storage.

Inside the former flea market the emphasis is on high tech, including two rows of digital Xerox printers that Shutterfly has dubbed I-Gen alley. The company claims the 40-plus printers are the largest line of digital printers in the country, possibly the world.

The printers’ frames, normally done in Xerox blue, shine with Shutterfly’s signature color – orange.

Millions of prints a day will start coming off the printers – creating memories for some of Shutterfly’s more than 30 million customers.

“We bring happy moments to people,” said Dwayne Black, senior vice president of operations for Shutterfly.

Friday’s grand opening comes 10 months after Shutterfly announced it was consolidating its three Charlotte plants and coming to Fort Mill. The move allowed Shutterfly to triple its work space.

All of estimated 500 workers followed Shutterfly to the new plant, Black said. Keeping its work force, Black said, was crucial to the consolidation. “We want people to enjoy where they work, make it a career,” he said.

York County and the state gave Shutterfly incentives to relocate. The county cut the property taxes for Shutterfly and Beacon Partners, which owns the building, by 43 percent over 30 years. The company got $700,000 from the state for infrastructure improvements and $250,00 in state road funds to build a new access from Coltharp Road. There were also state incentives for job creation.

Even though some of the workers will continue to live in North Carolina, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell said the relocation will enhance the state’s economic development efforts. He said he hopes some of the workers will relocate to York County “because it’s convenient.”

The long-term economic benefit, he said, is that Shutterfly’s suppliers – it relies on U.S. companies – will come to South Carolina to be closer to the plant.

McConnell, who oversees the state’s Office on Aging, also praised Shutterfly, noting that the photos and photobooks it produces “help keep families in touch and connected,” especially older adults. “You make their golden years more golden,” he said.

Shutterfly recently released its first quarter financial results, posting its 49th quarter of double-digit growth. The company’s net revenue was $116.7 million for the quarter, up 28 percent over the same period last year.

With the growth, Shutterfly has said it will stop outsourcing its customer service jobs to India and the Philippines. So far, about 60 percent of the customer service jobs are in the U.S. The Fort Mill plant has space for 150 customer service jobs that could be expanded to more than 300, Black said.

Shutterfly hopes to have about 80 percent of its customer service jobs in the U.S. within the next year.

Shutterfly’s work has great seasonal changes with 50 percent of the company business generated between Thanksgiving and a few days before Christmas.

The company workforce usually doubles with the seasonal influx. Shutterfly should begin seasonal employees in July at its Fort Mill facility, said Gretchen Sloan, company spokesperson.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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