Chamber Celebrates 2011 Business & Industry Appreciation Banquet
General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant Receives John B. Holland Business of the Year Award
Jessica M.L. Thompson, Marketing & Communications Director
The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated Business & Industry Appreciation Month by presenting 23 targeted businesses with awards at the Business & Industry Appreciation Banquet tonight. The General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant received the top award for the evening, the John B. Holland Business of the Year Award.
"Tonight's banquet is an important celebration for the Chamber," said Rodney Rogers, Chamber Board of Directors chairman. "This event is our opportunity to recognize the impact that targeted businesses have on our region and to show our thanks for their commitment to doing business here. We are honored to have such a tremendous program tonight, especially with the presence of Mr. Matt Erskine as our keynote speaker."
Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer at the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) was the keynote speaker for the banquet. Erskine was recently appointed to the U.S. EDA, where he assists U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez in overseeing the operations at the EDA, which include the review and development of the EDA's programs and the implementation of policy priorities that support President Barack Obama's efforts to create jobs and increase business growth. He spoke to the crowd of more than 400 about the EDA's programs and its efforts to build strong regional economies.
"Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky are great places to do business and raise a family," Erskine said. "I was honored to participate in the Bowling Green Area Chamber's celebration of the innovative business models that are strengthening the region and advancing our nation's competitiveness."
Before presenting the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant with the top award of the evening, emcee Barbara Deeb of WKYU-PBS announced that the Chamber has renamed the award previously known as the Industry of the Year Award, changing its title to the John B. Holland Business of the Year Award. This change represents the Chamber's deep appreciation and admiration for Mr. Holland, who is retired president and CEO of Fruit of the Loom, Inc., and his dedication to business success. Beginning with 2011, the John B. Holland Business of the Year Award will be presented to businesses that exemplify the business standards that Mr. Holland has upheld throughout his career: quality, innovation and leadership.
Dave Tatman, plant manager for the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, accepted the John B. Holland Business of the Year Award, which was sponsored by President's Club Bronze Star Partner Scott, Murphy & Daniel, LLC. "The GM Corvette Assembly workforce is absolutely thrilled to be named Business of the Year, especially in light of the ups and downs of the auto industry over the last few years. But the resilience of the workforce at this plant in Bowling Green is evident in everything we do. I have never seen a group of men and women more dedicated to producing a product that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations, in addition to giving back or what I call paying forward in the local community. I am so honored to represent this team and just proud that their efforts have been noticed."
The General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant has been home to the iconic Chevy Corvette since 1981 and currently employs approximately 590 full- and part-time employees. In 2010, the plant produced 15,791 Corvettes. GM's presence has a tremendous impact on Kentucky's economy and is a major part of Kentucky's rich automotive history. It was for this reason that in 2010, legislation was passed naming the Corvette as Kentucky's official state sports car.
In May 2011, GM officials announced that the one million square-foot plant will undergo a major refurbishment to add a new vehicle product program-the next-generation Chevy Corvette-creating 250 new jobs and a capital investment of more than $131 million. This announcement is the third largest announced investment in Kentucky by companies within the manufacturing and supportive/service firm industries this year.
Thus far in 2011, the plant has hired 80 new employees. The Bowling Green Assembly Plant supports many local supplier businesses, such as Ground Effects, Kentucky Chrome Works, Magna Car Top Systems and Trace Die Cast.
Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary in Bowling Green, the plant goes above and beyond in its support of the local community. Examples of employees' contributions include: participating in WKU Earth Day, bowling in Rivendell's Bowl for Kids' Sake Benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central KY, and raising money for the Bowling Green Warren County Humane Society. In July, the plant celebrated the opening of a 75-acre wildlife habitat on campus. To date, more than 150 children have participated in projects at the habitat, which includes 400 trees planted by GM employees and their families.
The Chamber presented awards in five other categories at the banquet:
Business Expansion Award Winners
- Business Expansion - Sponsored by President's Club Bronze Star Partner Tennessee Valley Authority
- Newcomer - Sponsored by President's Club Bronze Star Partner Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC
- Export Excellence - Sponsored by President's Club Bronze Star Partner Neal Turner Realty
- Green-to-Gold - Sponsored by President's Club Bronze Star Partner Robinson Construction Company
- Business Innovation - Sponsored by President's Club Diamond Star Partner Western Kentucky University - The WKU Research Foundation
Afni - Afni has been located in Bowling Green for 11 years, and the company is proud of its employees' commitment to the community, supporting that commitment with special fundraising campaigns. The call center currently employs 275 staff members, and it recently announced it will add another 150 employees. In the past 12 months, the company has added 50 new jobs. Afni emphasizes that its people are its strength, with 95% of their management team members being promoted within the company.
American Howa Kentucky, Inc. - American Howa Kentucky, Inc. announced its location in the Kentucky Transpark in 2007. The plant currently has nearly 100 full- and part-time employees and announced its second expansion in 2010, an investment of nearly $11.5 million to add 56,000 square feet to its existing 138,000-square-foot facility. The plant manufactures automotive sun shades, dash insulators and roof linings, and anticipates adding another 86 jobs with this expansion.
BANDO USA, Inc. - A manufacturer of power transmission products for the automotive industry, BANDO has been a part of South Central Kentucky for 23 years and is in the process of its fifth expansion. Currently, the plant has 170 full- and part-time employees. In late 2010, BANDO USA announced a $7-million expansion, adding 7,200 square feet and 15 new jobs to the Bowling Green plant. To date, six of the 15 employees have been hired and the expansion will be complete in fall 2011.
Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake - Having located in Bowling Green in 2007, Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake currently has a full-time staff of 378 employees, having added 244 full-time jobs as of September 2011. Its current employee count is nearly triple that of its original workforce. The commercial vehicle brake system manufacturer focuses on Six Sigma quality and expects its success to continue with 25 more jobs coming to the plant by the end of 2011.
BlueCotton - BlueCotton, established in 1998, conducts 80% of its business outside of South Central Kentucky through e-commerce and specializes in t-shirts, polo shirts, bags, hats, etc., and screen-printing and embroidery. While its business is spread worldwide, BlueCotton's operations are housed locally with 64 full- and part-time employees. Since 1998, the business has expanded from a 750-square-foot location to offices and manufacturing space totaling nearly 20,000 square feet, with plans for additional expansions in the near future. BlueCotton has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies for the last four consecutive years.
Bowling Green Metalforming - Bowling Green Metalforming's 900,000-square-foot plant opened production in the Kentucky Transpark in mid-2005. A vehicle frame manufacturer, the plant currently has 900 full- and part-time employees. The plant has diversified its customer base, which now includes BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota & Volkswagen. Approximately $180 million of the plants 2011 sales will be shipped outside of Kentucky.
Country Oven Bakery - Country Oven Bakery, part of The Kroger Company, currently employs nearly 540 South Central Kentucky residents in full- and part-time positions. The Bowling Green plant, which makes frozen dough products, breads and iced cakes for Kroger, has been in operation for 40 years and has announced three expansions, the most recent of which was in 2010 and announced the addition of 33 new jobs and 50,000 square feet to the company's existing 177,000 square-foot facility to accommodate a second cake line.
Holley Performance Products - Holley Performance Products manufactures carburetors and other fuel systems for the automotive industry and currently employs 307 full-time workers. Having more than 100 years in the automotive industry, Holley has invested $1.6 million and rehired 35 employees within the past 12 months. Since June 2011, the company has announced new products to expand their lines and grow their market share.
Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products - Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, LLC, a subsidiary of Kobe Steel, Ltd., has been a resident of South Central Kentucky since 2005. The Bowling Green plant is Kobe Steel's only U.S. facility to forge aluminum suspension products for the automotive industry. The plant currently has 190 full-time employees, having invested more than $900,000 and hired 40 new employees in the last year.
NHK of America Suspension Components (NASCO) - NASCO was the first Japanese manufacturing company to locate in Bowling Green and manufactures suspension coil springs for passenger cars and light trucks, and automotive trunk lid torsion bars and stabilizer links. With its 2011 announcement that it will invest more than $20 million in a new 50,000-square-foot plant at its current location, NASCO's total investment in Bowling Green exceeds more than $150 million. Currently, the plant employs 236 full- and part-time workers. The 2011 announcement also includes an additional 108 jobs over the next several years.
ShopNBC - ShopNBC has surpassed I million customers and continues to increase with their line-up of credible national brands through home and internet sales. The local distribution center currently has 340 employees. Having expanded within the last 12 months, the company has hired 71 new full-time and 37 new part-time workers. ShopNBC has plans to hire 70 additional employees within the next year.
Trace Die Cast, Inc. - Trace Die Cast, Inc. is a first and second tier supplier of aluminum die cast components and assemblies to the automotive industry. Significant customers include General Motors, Ford, BorgWarner, DMAX, Getrag and Allison. Thus far in 2011, the company has added 57 new employees and $4.85 million in capital investment to its operations in South Central Kentucky. Currently, Trace Die Cast's three manufacturing facilities have a total of 468 full-time employees. In its 23rd year of business, Trace has undergone seven expansions since its opening in 1988.
Newcomer Award Winners
CASCO Products - In spring 2011, CASCO Products, operated by Sequa Automotive Group, announced the location of a new product line at the Morgantown operations facilities in Butler County. This announcement brings an investment of more than $7.2 million to the region and will add 280 new jobs by 2014. The new manufacturing line will produce airbag safety system inflators. CASCO's announcement is the second highest number of jobs to be created by a 2011 Kentucky project, whether in new or expanding companies, in the manufacturing and supportive/service firms industries within the state.
Shiloh Industries, Inc. - Shiloh Industries, Inc. announced its plans to locate in the Kentucky Transpark in November 2010, with an investment of more than $9.9 million and 60 new jobs within three years of operation. The company, which provides blanking and stamping services for the automotive industry and other industrial customers, is located in an 81,000-square-foot facility.
Export Excellence Award Winner
Auburn Leather Company - Auburn Leather Company has been manufacturing leather shoe laces in Logan County for more than 25 years under its current name, but the company's history in Kentucky dates back to 1863. Currently, 110 workers are employed full-time at the plant, having grown from 12 original employees in its first year of business in 1986. The only tanner and manufacturer of true rawhide leather laces in the United States, Auburn Leather has grown from $8 million in sales to $15 million in sales in just two years by growing its exports. Those sales have grown by $4 million in the last year, and the plant has added 30 new jobs. Auburn Leather currently exports to China, the Dominican Republic, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand.
Green-to-Gold Award Winner
SCA Personal Care - SCA Personal Care, part of SCA Americas, a subsidiary of Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA), has been located in Bowling Green for 23 years. Currently, there are 190 full- and part-time employees at the plant, which manufactures adult incontinence products. The plant became certified in both ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standards and BSI 18001 Occupational Safety Management Standards in 2007. Although the addition of two new production machines in 2010 resulted in a seven percent increase in energy use, the plant has actually experienced a two percent decrease due to a wide variety of activities to reduce energy usage. Since 2005, SCA Personal Care has reduced the amount of material it sends to landfills by 63%. In 2010, the plant's recycling rate topped 91%. The plant is on target to achieve Zero Landfill for its production processes by the end of 2011 through waste reduction practices and cooperation from recycling service providers.
Business Innovation Award Winners
Geothermal Supply Company - Geothermal Supply Company has been located in South Central Kentucky for 15 years and currently employs 30 full-time staff members, including three new positions thus far in 2011. The company produces geothermal products including polyethylene pipe, prefabricated vaults and pump stations. It is the first company to design and build the polyethylene vault used in the geothermal industry, and Geothermal Supply has built several other unique products for the industry, including pump stations, large air removal pumping systems and testing equipment. Also, the company has been instrumental in the design and manufacturing of ice rink header systems and has developed new polyethylene products such as a vault for the water and waste water industry.
HeathCo, LLC - In 2008 HeathCo Corporation located its headquarters in the Central Region Innovation & Commercialization Center at the Western Kentucky University Center for Research & Development. This office now employees 72 staff members, with the largest groups being in sales, marketing and product development. Over the last 12 months HeathCo has created 10 new positions. With innovation as the cornerstone of HeathCo's success, under their Heath Zenith%reg; brand HeathCo has grown to be the largest manufacturer and marketer of outdoor motion security lighting, motion activated lanterns and door chimes in North America. Already this year HeathCo has been granted five new patents and has six additional patents pending. These patented innovations have made HeathCo one of the leaders in outdoor L.E.D. residential motion lighting products which they have launched this year at both Home Depot and Lowe's stores throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.
Hitcents.com - Hitcents began in 1999 as a two-person business producing website advertising. Located at the Central Region Innovation & Commercialization Center at the Western Kentucky University Center for Research & Development, the company has since grown to 39 full-time employees and announced an expansion of 10 new jobs in January 2011. Hitcents has achieved success in many markets: web design, technology, hardware and software development, marketing and branding, and strategy. In August 2007 Hitcents was named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America. Also that year, owners Chris and Clinton Mills were named to the Inc. "5,000 CEOs Under 30" list. The company has developed a web-based management system, Omniprise, designed to provide customized customer service solutions through an all-encompassing software system that supports a streamlined approach to data management.
Pure Power Technologies, LLC - Pure Power Technologies, LLC's research and development office has been located at the Central Region Innovation & Commercialization Center at the Western Kentucky University Center for Research & Development for two years, and it currently employs 19 full- and part-time staff members. The company produces emissions control devices, valves and actuators for diesel engines, priding itself in its leadership in the design, development and series production of high precision air management and emissions controls devices. Pure Power Technologies holds two U.S. patents, five provisional patents and three records of invention. The company has expanded its product portfolio from two platforms (intake throttle and EGR valve) to six platforms (including thermal management valves, engine brakes, coolant flow devices, stand-alone/independent actuator devices).
Quick Fuel Technology - In its 13th year of business in South Central Kentucky, Quick Fuel Technology currently employs 40 full-time workers. The company manufactures fuel systems products: carburetors, fuel pumps and regulators, carburetor rebuild kits and carburetor small parts. In 2008, the company began producing carburetors that operate with E-85 Ethanol fuel, a cleaner-burning, low-emissions fuel, and has started offering E-85 calibrated carburetors for drag race, circle track and street applications.
The Chamber thanks all of its sponsors for making the banquet a success. In addition to the award sponsors listed above, the following Chamber partners sponsored a portion of the banquet:
About the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce:
- CGS Machine & Tool - Regional Table Sponsor
- Deemer Floral Company - Flowers Sponsor
- Forever Communications - Media Sponsor
- Gerald Printing - Print Sponsor
- Office Depot - Regional Table Sponsor
- PSWC Stormwater Sewer Agency - Regional Table Sponsor
- President's Club Platinum Star Partner U.S. Bank - Audio/Visual Sponsor
Incorporated in 1935, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is a 5-Star Accredited Chamber by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was named the 2009 Chamber of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. As the fourth largest chamber in Kentucky, the Chamber serves as a premier business advocate for its more than 1,300 partners and is the driving force for economic development in South Central Kentucky. Its primary goals are to promote growth and success in the business community, reaching its small business partners and those in large industries alike. With leadership programs, governmental relations projects, educational initiatives and involvement opportunities, the Chamber aims to support the community and its neighbors in order to enhance the business climate and continue to grow the region.