Halton Breaks Ground for New Plant
November 1, 2018 (Halton, KY) by Matt Pedigo, C-T News Editor
State, local and federal officials were on hand last Friday morning at Allen County’s new industrial park to mark a ground-breaking ceremony for the land’s first industrial occupant.
Halton, which has its North American headquarters in Scottsville, will be expanding its local operations with a brand-new plant in the Allen County-Scottsville Industrial Development Authority’s new 136-acre Allen Springs Industrial Park, just north of Halfway. The company is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of elite air filtration/ventilation systems, especially for the restaurant industry.
From its Scottsville facility, it has developed attractive stainless-steel ventilation hoods and even ceilings. The latter are especially needed for culinary schools, where more line of sight is needed for students.
The new plant marks a major expansion for Halton. During Friday’s ceremony, Halton Americas President Rick Bagwell framed it: In 1997, Finland-born Halton had opened its Scottsville plant with a workforce of 17 people.
“We have 160 now,” Bagwell said. “We expect the same growth at this facility. We’re excited about that.” Halton has purchased a 20-acre tract in the new park for its new 45,000 square-foot plant, which will also include a concrete pad about double that size.
The new Halton facility will take the product line a step further. In recent weeks, Halton announced the acquisition of Louisville-based LCSystems, Inc., which manufacture air and kitchen exhaust fan systems. Beginning in 2004, Halton had been a licensed product manufacturer for LCSystems.
In a press release announcing the acquisition, Halton Group owner/Chairman Mika Halttunen said, “The North American market is very important to Halton. Next year we will be celebrating our 30th year in the US market. This acquisition will further strengthen our position in the steadily growing food service market while it opens an important new product category for us to better serve our customers.”
The new Allen County plant will be ground-zero for this entirely new product line, which will address both air supply and exhaust. This will be a key element of Halton Foodservice division, products from which served 6,000 commercial kitchens worldwide in 2017 alone.
Speaking with The Citizen-Times in April to announce the plant, Bagwell provided an example of a restaurant or food plant located in a residential area. The proximity to neighboring homes and businesses means keeping smoke, odor and grease particulate emissions to a minimum. This is done in part by keeping negative air pressure in the building, meaning that a slightly lower amount of air volume is moved into the space, versus what is circulated out through exhaust. This allows greater capture of particulates in the filtration system, and cleaner air emissions.
Halton will employ its now-patented M.A.R.V.E.L. (Model-based Automated Regulation of Ventilation Exhaust Levels) system to design and build systems that, in addition to filtration/ventilation/fire suppression, are also designed for climate control. Earth’s varying climates mean Halton will be designing some with greater heating capabilities for colder northern climates, and some focused more on cooling for more southern/equatorial climates.
Having already purchased a North Carolina plant that made electrostatic precipitators, Halton can integrate that product into its new line of Scottsville-made systems. For both function and energy efficiency, the systems will have electronic temperature monitoring capability as well as settings including “Idle” and “Cook.”
The new plant will also have its own research and development facilities. Since some orders will mean larger products, the new plant will have a more open floor plan, paint booth and related facilities.
Site work for the new plant is proceeding rapidly, and didn’t stop for the ceremony. Much will depend on how much winter weather affects the construction process, but Bagwell said Halton tentatively hopes to have the plant operational by next May. A lot of the manufacturing equipment can be moved in and set up during the latter stages of plant construction, he noted.
The plant will begin its operation in two phases, he adds. The first will involve shifting existing employees from its Old Gallatin Road plant to the new one. Once the product line grows, the second phase will begin, which includes adding new jobs.
“This will be transformative for generations of families,” Allen County Economic Development/IDA Director Richie Sanders said in his opening remarks.
Issac Myers, this area’s field representative for Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, said the Halton project fits in well with the Bevin Administration’s economic development goals.
Bagwell praised the work of the IDA, Mayor Rob Cline and the Scottsville City Council, Allen Judge/Executive Johnny Hobdy and the Allen Fiscal Court. The City of Scottsville’s infrastructure projects—sewer and natural gas service coming to the park from Scottsville—have helped make the new plant and industrial park possible, as have other projects. For example, North Central Telephone Cooperative’s investments in fiber-optics, Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation’s new additional power supply line to the area and, in 2007, the Allen County Water District’s installation of a 12-inch water line to the Warren County border.
“These are interesting times,” Bagwell said. “Scottsville and Allen County can show Washington a lot about working together, communication and compromise—that’s not a dirty word. We can move ahead as a community, a state and a nation.”
US Rep. James Comer (R-First District) added of the plant and park, “There’s not a better location in Kentucky to start a new industrial park than on this road. I can envision what this will look like in 10 to 15 years.”
The freshman congressman said he is working with both of Kentucky’s US senators, Rand Paul and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to help roll back regulations and make economic investment even more attractive for businesses and industrial ventures.
“I think the future is bright for America and Kentucky—and it’s very bright for Allen County,” he said.
Judge Hobdy noted that Halton has been more than an employer—they’ve been a strong community partner, sponsoring a variety of non-profit ventures, from the Laura Turner Dugas Fund for Allen County to South Central Kentucky Crime Stoppers—and even donating back land it had bought in the Old Gallatin Road industrial park, a move that made other ventures like a new Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems venture possible. Bagwell himself has served on the Allen County Board of Education and the IDA.
“They’re definitely a plus to our community, not only as an employer, but as a citizen,” Hobdy said. “The Mayor (Rob Cline) and the Scottsville City Council have definitely stepped up with the infrastructure,” Hobdy continued, adding praise for NCTC, TCEMC the IDA and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. He also added a tribute to the important people who weren’t at the ceremony—the local workers, in industry and commercial ventures, who keep the companies going and make further development possible. The work ethic of Allen County’s workforce is a strong asset that has encouraged investment here—a point Bagwell had made more than once.
Also on hand for the ceremony was a man who had a job on this very property long ago. A member of the Wix family that had owned the farm, Charles Wix said he grew up working in the fields the new plant and park will occupy; he had set fence posts, grown tobacco and corn and kept livestock on it, including hogs, cows and goats.
“I picked up a lot of rocks out of here, too,” he adds.
Wix said he supported the Halton project, but still had some mixed emotions over seeing the old farm—a rare large, almost flat area in this county’s lumpy topography—become a permanent industrial development.
“I’m for it,” he said. “It’s great that they’re doing something with it that will be useful for the community. But it’s a little sad, too.”
To find out more about the Allen County-Scottsville Industrial Development Authority please view their website at: www.scottsvillegrowth.com.