CHARLESTON BUSINESS JOURNAL – Next generation assumes ownership of rigging company

charleston business journal logo - 1429821537-CRBJ-Banner-ColorBy Chuck Crumbo
Published Nov. 30, 2011

CHARLESTON — There’s a new brother and sister act in the supply chain business — Skip Sawin and Jessica Sage.

Sawin and Sage are the new owners of Charleston’s Rigging/Carolina’s Rigging, buying the business from their parents, Rick and Valerie Sawin.

Skip SawinMom and Dad established the business, which is headquartered in Charleston, in 1988 when the kids might have been more interested in riding bikes than crunching numbers.

But actually they’ve been a part of the operation for years, Skip Sawin said.

“It’s been a very easy transition, especially since Jess and I grew up in the business,” said Sawin, 36. “Our family has been centered around this business since its inception. Both of us worked here and in diverse capacities over the years. We’ve learned the business by being part of it.”

Jessica SageSage, 33, is the chief financial officer, and Sawin serves as chief operating officer.
They say it’s a shared responsibility to run the corporation, which employs about 50 people .

“We honor the work our parents did to establish the company and will endeavor to be wise custodians of the company’s legacy while sustaining a vision for the future,” Sage said.

The company, which also has offices in Columbia and Augusta, Ga., offers a range of services. The supplier for maritime and commercial construction, maritime shipping, stevedores, port-related activity, and both light and heavy industry in the Carolinas and Georgia, has annual sales of more than $10 million.

Charleston’s Rigging and Carolina’s Rigging has a field service division that provides repair, inspection and installation of overhead material handling products.

The company also sells supplies to local steel mills, power generating stations and manufacturers. Additionally, the firm specializes in stock and custom fabrication of material-handling slings and devices for overhead lifting.

The company also has had a role in a key moment of South Carolina history. It fabricated the slings to cradle the Confederate submarine Hunley so the vessel could be raised in August 2000 from the ocean floor just outside Charleston Harbor.

Sawin and Sage said they didn’t set out to take over the business from their parents. Sawin ran a millwork and cabinet company while Sage worked as a biotech researcher.

“In life, you never know what’s around the corner,” Sawin said. “It’s a dream for most offspring to work with their parents.”

Sawin and Sage took over the business July 1 as their parents retired to their log cabin in the North Carolina mountains. The siblings said it’s special to have each other to run the business, adding that they couldn’t do it without each other. But they noted that it’s one thing to communicate with each other as family, and another as business partners.

“We’ve learned the business by being part of it. We know and understand the culture our parents created,” Sawin said.

He added that because both he and Sage had worked in diverse capacities over the years, they knew the business inside and out.

“We could not do it without one another,” Sage said. “Together we can move mountains.”


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