August Manufacturer of the Month: Structures USA

Elizabethtown and Hardin County are home to many manufacturers that are innovative leaders in their industries as well as vital contributors to our region’s economy. EHCIF’s Manufacturer of the Month is an opportunity to recognize these companies and increase awareness of the manufacturing activity happening every day right here in the Elizabethtown area.

Public works projects across the country depend on the team at Elizabethtown-based Structures USA and VSI Sales. Structures USA manufactures overhead sign structures used on interstates as well as highway lighting, traffic signal poles and related products. VSI Sales engineers and markets the products fabricated by Structures USA.

Co-located in a 90,000-square-foot facility at 333 Peterson Drive, the companies started operating in Elizabethtown in 2013 with three employees. Since then, the team has grown to about 50, including welders, machine operators, industrial maintenance techs, estimators, drafters and others. In addition, Structures USA has invested greatly in the state-of-the-art equipment at the Elizabethtown plant.

The manufacturer sees new opportunities and growth ahead, now under the leadership of parent company Nova Pole International Inc., a Canadian owned company also known for quality infrastructure products.

At Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation, we’re proud Structures USA and VSI Sales call Elizabethtown home. We thank them for their contributions to our community and wish them continued success.

ECTC presents workforce programs at facility managers meeting

Our thanks to Elizabethtown Community and Technical College for hosting the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation monthly facility managers meeting today. ECTC President Dr. Juston Pate shared information about several programs and initiatives designed to strengthen the manufacturing community.

ECTC and U.S. Army Garrison Fort Knox recently partnered to create the Advanced Manufacturing Career Skills Program (CSP). The program gives transitioning soldiers at any duty station across the globe an opportunity to come to Fort Knox, train at ECTC and earn industry certificates that lead to in-demand careers. The program presents a unique opportunity for employers to connect with transitioning soldiers and create a new pipeline of highly skilled talent.

Pate also discussed the University Center, which will bring multiple university partners to Elizabethtown, making higher education more accessible and affordable. University partners will offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that align with the needs of local employers.

In addition, the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship is available for Kentucky residents who do not have a degree and are interested in high-demand career fields including manufacturing.

The next facility managers meeting is at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 19 at EHCIF. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Cherri Spalding at 270-737-0300.

Elizabethtown’s Public Visioning Workshop set for July 18

June Manufacturer of the Month: E-town Truss

Elizabethtown and Hardin County are home to many manufacturers that are innovative leaders in their industries as well as vital contributors to our region’s economy. EHCIF’s Manufacturer of the Month is an opportunity to recognize these companies and increase awareness of the manufacturing activity happening every day right here in the Elizabethtown area.

E-town Truss, a family owned and operated business, has played a role in building up Elizabethtown, Hardin County and many other Kentucky communities since it was established in 1977.

At its facility on Valley Creek Road, this local company builds custom roof trusses and floor trusses, which are shipped to job sites typically within a 75-mile radius of Elizabethtown. The company, equipped to build trusses with up to an 80-foot clear span, produces products for single-family homes, multi-family dwellings and commercial properties. Working with a long list of area builders and contractors, E-town Truss has left its mark on countless homes and buildings.

This year, the company marked a milestone anniversary. Twenty years ago, Bobby and Kim Tabb purchased the business from Mrs. Tabb’s father. As Mr. Tabb will tell you, the E-town Truss team shares a commitment to Elizabethtown and takes pride in seeing the city’s continued growth and prosperity. They are also grateful to give back to the community. For instance, E-town Truss has been a valuable partner to Habitat for Humanity of Hardin County.

Elizabethtown recognized for foreign direct investment

Below are excerpts from an article titled “FDI Clusters” in the the current issue of Southern Business Development magazine. The full article is available here.

You can learn more about the Elizabethtown industrial facilities with foreign ownership here.

Small and Medium-Sized Cities in the South Attracting Foreign Direct Investment In a Big Way

There are many destinations in the South for foreign direct investment (FDI). Profiled here are the top small and medium-sized markets for FDI in the 15-state Southern region. These markets were chosen based on the number of projects they have captured from foreign companies over the last 25 years.

KENTUCKY

Elizabethtown, Ky.

Elizabethtown, Ky., has enjoyed long-term growth in foreign direct investment from Belgium, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico and The Netherlands. Elizabethtown’s prime central location, low energy prices, community attributes and more have landed new projects like India-based packaging giant Flex Films (2010) and The Netherland’s Eurotrol (2016), which produces quality control products for in vitro diagnostics. In addition, foreign investors’ success in Elizabethtown has led to multiple expansions. AGC Automotive (Japan), for example, has tripled its footprint since coming to Elizabethtown in the late 1980s, and the latest expansion at automotive supplier Metalsa (Mexico) will create 250 new jobs.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Kentucky include Nelson County, Bowling Green, Clark County, Danville-Boyle County, Georgetown-Scott County, Christian County, Bullitt County, Shelby County, Simpson County, Marion County, Mercer County, Owensboro, Murray, Somerset and Richmond.

May Manufacturer of the Month: Hendrickson

Elizabethtown and Hardin County are home to many manufacturers that are innovative leaders in their industries as well as vital contributors to our region’s economy. EHCIF’s Manufacturer of the Month is an opportunity to recognize these companies and increase awareness of the manufacturing activity happening every day right here in the Elizabethtown area.

A leading supplier to the global commercial transportation industry, Hendrickson manufactures medium and heavy-duty suspension systems, axle systems, springs and stabilizers, and bumper and trim components. At the Elizabethtown facility in T.J. Patterson Industrial Park, the Hendrickson team manufactures suspension components that are shipped to sister facilities for final assembly.

Elizabethtown first welcomed Hendrickson in 2014. In April, 2015, we were proud to join Hendrickson employees and leaders to not only officially open the initial 100,000 square-foot facility, but also to announce plans for Hendrickson’s first Elizabethtown expansion. The company’s second building — 50,000 square-feet — allowed for the addition of processing equipment.

Hendrickson’s investments in Elizabethtown have created approximately 140 new jobs, and the company currently has opportunities for maintenance technicians, welders, production associates and more.

At EHCIF, we have enjoyed watching Hendrickson grow, and we look forward to their continued success in Elizabethtown. To learn more about this valued member of Elizabethtown’s industrial community, visit www.hendrickson-intl.com.

Airport highlighted at Facility Managers meeting

Elizabethtown Regional Airport Board Chairman Don Wise, left, and E-town Flying Service Manager Anne Lawson joined the monthly Facility Managers meeting on Thursday.

It was a pleasure to welcome Don Wise, chairman of the Elizabethtown Regional Airport Board, and Anne Lawson, E-Town Flying Service Manager, to the monthly Facility Managers meeting. Guests enjoyed learning about the airport’s 6,000-feet runway and many other attributes.

Wise and Lawson also discussed a number of upcoming projects including the Glide Slope project, which is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The project will complete the airport’s Instrument Landing System and allow aircraft to take off and land in inclement weather. Other projects include airfield striping, replacing T-hangar apron asphalt with concrete and replacing Precision Approach Path Indicator Lights.

The airport plays an important role in our community’s economic development, and we are excited about what these new developments mean for the airport’s growth and available services. To learn more, visit ekxairport.com.

The next EHCIF Facility Managers meeting is at 11:30 a.m. May 16. For more information or to RSVP, contact Cherri Spalding at 270-737-0300.

Growing manufacturer finds new ways to recruit young talent

By RICK GAMES

Any manufacturing executive will tell you that talent recruitment is a top driver for remaining competitive, and attracting bright young employees is certainly part of the mix. At the same time, our communities and the Lincoln Trail region collectively must find new ways to retain our region’s young talent so that we can develop the workforce our businesses need to grow.

With that said, I’m excited to see many employers connecting with our youth, helping them discover opportunities to start high-demand careers here. The latest example is a new hiring model adopted by Metalsa.

Already one of the global automotive supplier’s largest operations, Metalsa’s Elizabethtown plant is expanding to create 250 new jobs this year and in 2020. To help prepare a workforce to match its growth, Metalsa launched its Jump Start program.

The program is designed to attract new high school graduates to the company. Working with seven area high schools, Metalsa introduced itself to high school seniors who could begin working for the company after they graduate and turn 18. Interested students were invited to apply and those selected will work full-time, earning good wages and benefits.  

The Jump Start program waives the typical minimum experience requirements for new high school grads, and it allows applicants to choose one of two paths — the Direct Hire Path or the Tuition Reimbursement Path.

Metalsa’s Direct Hire Path appeals to students who are more interested in starting a career immediately and it offers opportunities to participate in Metalsa’s apprenticeship programs.

Jump Start participants on Metalsa’s Tuition Reimbursement Path are immediately eligible for scholarships through Elizabethtown Community and Technical College as well as Metalsa’s tuition reimbursement program. Tuition reimbursement is not normally an immediate employee benefit.

“Jump Start is a great example of how employers can tap into ECTC’s programs and offerings to recruit and retain a higher quality workforce,” ECTC president Dr. Juston Pate said. “It’s a win for the employee and the company.”

Pate also co-chairs the Unlocking Local Potential Subcommittee of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board’s Workforce Crisis Task Force. The committee is focused on increasing work-based learning opportunities in our region’s in-demand sectors, including advanced manufacturing.

Too many young people in our region lack an understanding of the career opportunities available to them locally. Secondly, students who go away to college commonly stay away, Pate said, because they connect with employers and careers close to the colleges they attend.

The committee’s work is guided by this principle: When we create opportunities for students to experience work-based learning locally, they become much more likely to choose to stay in their home communities. These opportunities include everything from a high school student’s daylong job shadowing, to a college student’s semester-long internship, to full apprenticeship programs. Ultimately, it’s an effort to grow our population, our workforce and our economy.

What we’re seeing at Metalsa is one example of an individual employer’s plan to unlock local potential. As president of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation, I applaud Metalsa’s new approach. Not only are the company’s representatives taking steps to ensure the up-and-coming labor force is aware of local job opportunities, but they’ve created a realistic pathway to a long-term career for new grads.

Rick Games is president and COO of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation. He can be reached at 270-737-0300.

RELATED EVENT: Apprenticeship Summit, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., April 10, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, Room 212 Regional Post-Secondary Center. Employers are invited to learn about the benefits of apprenticeships and how ECTC and KCTCS can help companies establish apprenticeship programs. For more information, contact Mike Hazzard, Dean of Workforce Solutions and Technical Programs, at 270-706-8686 or mikew.hazzard@kctcs.edu.

April Manufacturer of the Month: Bluegrass Tank & Equipment

Elizabethtown and Hardin County are home to many manufacturers that are innovative leaders in their industries as well as vital contributors to our region’s economy. EHCIF’s Manufacturer of the Month is an opportunity to recognize these companies and increase awareness of the manufacturing activity happening every day right here in the Elizabethtown area.

Established in Elizabethtown in 1972, Bluegrass Tank & Equipment has grown to fill a vital role in the dairy industry in multiple states. The company manufactures custom, stainless steel, food-grade tanks that are used to transport milk from farms to dairy processing facilities.

At its facility on Peterson Drive, where the company has been headquartered since 1985, Bluegrass Tank manufactures about 30 units each year. Consisting of the trailer and stainless steel tank, each unit is fabricated to customer specifications by Bluegrass Equipment’s highly skilled team.  

A family owned company led by founder Richard Davis and his son Todd Davis, Bluegrass Tank also offers repair and maintenance services and has expanded to include satellite repair shops in Florida, Michigan and Texas. Further, its affiliate company T. Davis Sales serves as a dealer of the industry’s leading non-custom food grade trailers and provides rental services.

For decades, Bluegrass Tank has been a valued member of Elizabethtown’s manufacturing community, providing jobs and investing in our local economy. We look forward to the company’s continued success and growth.

Mayor Gregory addresses facility managers

From left, EHCIF President and COO Rick Games, Elizabethtown City Administrator Ed Poppe, Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory, ECHIF Board Chairman Greg Pawley

Our thanks to Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory for joining the Elizabethtown-Hardin Industrial Foundation’s monthly facility managers meeting. Gregory provided an update on various city activities and services, from public safety, to utilities, to commercial development, to recreation and other projects that drive the quality of place Elizabethtown residents enjoy.

For more information or to RSVP for the next facility managers meeting, which will be at 11:30 a.m. April 18, please contact Cherri Spalding at 270-737-0300.