When John Treece began looking for a place to locate an auto parts warehouse and distribution center, he found Tabor City. The company, DMA Holdings, Inc., is an Inc. 5000 company, which means it is one of 5,000 of the top growing companies in the United States. It now has two locations with company headquarters in Small Town U.S.A — Tabor City. Founded in 2008 by Treece and Steve Bertling, the company has grown to one of the most successful automotive aftermarket parts suppliers in the North American ride-control market. With sales in the original equipment supplier, big-box retail, wholesale and e-retail channels, it has built a diverse customer base for branded and private label products.
Treece, from Albemarle, said DMA doesn’t manufacture auto parts, but warehouses and distributes them. The products are brought to the Charleston, S.C. port from offshore automotive companies wanting to expand in North America. The products are then transferred to Tabor City where they are housed in a 150,000 square-foot warehouse off U.S. 701 and to a 100,000 square-foot warehouse off New Warehouse Road on the north end of Tabor City. DMA now has a few more than 50 employees, but with a $250,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority to extend 1,200 feet of 12-inch water line to the 100,000 square-foot warehouse, at least 13 new employees will be hired. The water lines are needed to provide a sprinkler system. Tabor City will also receive a grant for more than $97,000 from the Building Reuse Program to renovate the 100,000 square-foot building. Treece says he anticipates that DMA will have about 60 employees and sales exceeding $35 million in 2018. The company was voted 15th on the 2017 North Carolina Mid-Market Fast 40 rankings. Atlantic Corporation’s Tabor City plant is near the DMA warehouse just off U.S. 701 on East 5th Street. Atlantic, with facilities throughout the United States and Dominican Republic, was 13th in the Mid-Market Fast 40 rankings and both companies were honored for strong gains in the workforce and revenue for two consecutive years. “For a business to grow and succeed, you need a strong corporate vision, passionate employees and adequate financing,” Treece was quoted in the N.C. Mid-Market Fast 40 publication. “Add in a state and local community that is truly engaged in helping you be successful and everyone wins.” Asked why he chose Tabor City for DMA’s location, Treece said, “We knew this area. We love the beach and needed a larger manufacturing space and this area had a building and a good work force that was available. The county and state were helpful to us and the new grant will help supply growth. We like it out here. In 2018 our growth plan will take us over 50 million with more customers. The picture looks pretty good. We will expand our product lines and we’re excited about the opportunity.” Asked why he chose auto parts as a business, Treece said he always liked cars and went to work with Goodyear when he was young. “You’ve got to keep your cars running, whether the economy is good or bad, and 2008 was good,” he said. “It’s a recession-proof industry that does well when times are tough and when they are great. We don’t have public transportation so we have to keep those cars running, old or new.” Asked if he’d ever shipped auto parts to Jay Leno for his dozens of collectible cars, Treese said no, but he did a lot of auto restoration for Harrison Ford. He said when he talked to him on the phone he said, “You sound like Harrison Ford,” and Ford replied, “That’s because I am Harrison Ford.” Treece said he hopes to be here next year, and the year after, as he has big plans for the future. “When you’ve got the city, county and state backing you, you can get something done. There’s been an element of luck, too, when you have people pulling for you. The area has been economically challenged for good paying jobs since tobacco and textiles left.” Treece said DMA has a tremendous amount of Internet business and he was visited by one of his Internet customers recently. State Rep. Brenden Jones, who had ordered a car part off the Internet, came to his office with a shipping label that came from Tabor City. “If I had known it was coming from Tabor City, I could have walked over here and picked it up,” Jones told him. “We give back to the community,” Treece said of DMA. “It’s part of the company’s culture, to pay it forward. The city, county and state have been good to us.” He noted that he and his wife Maria and the company support food drives, provide basketball uniforms for South Columbus High, participate in Christmas Angel, help disadvantaged families and they “adopted” a single mother with four kids for Christmas. They also provided 500 pounds of dog food and treats for needy pups through the Humane Society. The Treeces have three daughters, ages 24, 21 and 20, all University of South Carolina students, the oldest a law school student. They also have a large black and white English bulldog who reigns at DMA. He’s King Louis and he’s the sweetest, gentlest dog you’ll ever meet. He “goes to work” at DMA quite often.