From its initial South Carolina debut in 1977 as Linde-Baker to the groundbreaking of a new assembly plant in Summerville at the end of 2022, KION North America has been developing relationships across the Lowcountry, including with the College of Charleston.

As part of the KION Group headquartered in Germany, KION North America recently participated in the College’s annual German-American Business Summit. The material handling vehicle manufacturer took part as a sponsor and presenter at the summit as well as had employees manning a booth at the summit’s career fair, where they recruited both interns and full-time employees.

“We have needs in many different disciplines including engineering, supply chain, sales, marketing, operations and finance,” says Jonathan Dawley, CEO of KION North America. “We are on a strong growth trajectory and will double our current employee headcount in all facets of our business over the next five years.”

The KION NA presence on campus has also expanded to include Dawley on the President’s Advisory Council for Innovation and Industry Engagement and Christian Loew, vice president of Product Development – North America, as a member of the College of Charleston Engineering Industrial Advisory Board.

Both Dawley and Loew have been supportive of the College’s efforts to develop engineering programs, including ensuring that the curriculum structure is in line with the needs of local industry. They have also established the KION Endowed Engineering Scholarship, which will be awarded to its first recipient in the fall of 2023.

“I first met Christian Loew at a CofC German-American Business Summit back in 2020, just before the COVID shut down,” says Sebastian van Delden, dean of the School of Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering. “I was so impressed with KION NA and Christian that I immediately asked him to serve on our industry board. I am so appreciative of the time KION NA has invested on our board as well as on the President’s Advisory Council with Jonathan Dawley. Of course, I am thrilled to now have KION NA take its commitment to CofC to the next level by investing financially in the future of engineering at the College.”

“Supporting the College’s efforts to develop tech-driven, innovative talent helps grow the Lowcountry’s talent base, which helps us,” says Dawley. “In this way, we know that the graduates we bring into the business are aligned with our needs.”

In addition to their support on campus, each semester KION NA recruits around five CofC students to intern at the Summerville plant. These interns gain real-world experience in their discipline.

“By exposing interns to the reality of business and our company, we hope to get students who are interested in employment in the future,” explains Dawley, who notes that some CofC graduates currently employed by KION NA are getting their master’s degrees through the support of the company.

Opportunities at KION North America for students and graduates will only increase as the facility expands its product lines and increases its workforce by 450 in the coming years — definitely a boon for the College and the Lowcountry.