Tarheel Aluminum was started in 1989 by Tim Bohem in his garage on Tarheel Lane along Cape Arago Highway. Shortly after, the business grew and relocated to the Charleston Shipyard. In 2000, Ray Cox bought the business when his son, Kyle Cox, was in high school. It was during this time that Kyle learned a lot about the business and slowly over the years has taken the reigns to run Tarheel Aluminum. He became the official owner in July, 2016.
As the owner of Tarheel Aluminum, Kyle plays many different roles. He is the owner/operator, secretary, head of shop, administrative manager and bookkeeper. Usually he spends five to six hours working in the shop and the rest of the time handling administrative/finance tasks. Currently, Tarheel Aluminum employs three to five people depending on the workload. It is a small team but they stay busy all year round with a variety of projects. These include projects as big as building a fishing vessel to smaller projects such as making handrails or lumber racks for pickup trucks. Kyle also really values efficiency in his company as most projects have a quick turnaround time of a couple of days. He also makes sure to use top of the line welders, plasma cutters and other innovative equipment. This makes the turnaround time for a project a lot quicker making Tarheel a cheaper and more efficient option for customers. Talking to Kyle, it is apparent that Tarheel Aluminum values fast and timely turnaround for projects while maintaining high quality through its top of the line equipment and skilled workers.
Tarheel Aluminum is one of the three companies located in the Charleston Shipyard that supports the recreational fishing fleet. Therefore, it has a significant impact on the local economy. Tarheel Aluminum services vessel owners from Alaska to California and even the east coast. These vessel owners usually bring their crew to Charleston to complete work on their vessels which means staying, eating, and shopping at local businesses. In addition, Tarheel Aluminum works with a lot of different vendors in the area including JGS Precision Tool Manufacturing, Englund Marine, Knutson, and much more. This interdependency of local businesses helps stabilize our economic portfolio. Kyle says that if all these key parts were not in place, then everybody would lose out.
As Kyle looks toward the future, he sees Tarheel Aluminum expanding. Specifically, he hopes to double the number of employees and doing bigger projects such as building boats. Kyle hopes to be able to build one to two fishing vessels a year. He says that one of the best things about building fishing vessels is that the vessel will probably outlive him which is one way that he can leave his legacy. Tarheel Aluminum’s main priority however will always be to maintain the commercial fishing fleet. This means continuing to make products that help the fishing community do their work more easily and efficiently.