15 Aug CT article Halton KY2 Ribbon Cutting 051619
Halton Cuts the Ribbon on New Plant
By Matt Pedigo
State and local officials and staff, Scottsville-Allen County Chamber of Commerce members and Halton Company officers gathered last Thursday to cut the ribbon on the company’s brand-new “K-2” (Kentucky Two) plant—a project expected to blossom into a major new source of jobs in the near future.
The 55,000 square-foot (for now) plant is the first resident of the Allen County-Scottsville Industrial Development Authority’s new 136-acre Allen Springs Industrial Park, located alongside US 231’s northbound lanes just before the Warren County border. The IDA owns and has constructed the building, and is leasing it to Halton. The company has purchased the 20-acre tract it sits on—enough land for its parking areas and possible future expansion.
And expansion is the plant, Halton America’s President Rick Bagwell said.
“That’s a knockout wall,” he said, pointing to the building’s south wall. “We can double the size of this, possibly in the next decade.”
An industry leader in ventilation and air filtration systems for commercial cooking facilities, cruise ships and other major industries, Finland-born Halton already has its main North American manufacturing and research and development plant in Scottsville on Old Gallatin Road. That plant opened in 1997, with a workforce of just 17 people. That plant grew steadily, and now employs 178 people. In 2015, Halton announced the location of its North American headquarters in Scottsville, investing $3.7 million in a new 10,300 square-foot headquarters and research/development building that is now open beside the Old Gallatin Road plant.
From its Scottsville facility, Halton 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. Halton’s current Scottsville facilities will remain in operation as well.
The new plant will be an entirely new Halton operation; the company recently acquired Louisville-based LCSystems, Inc., which manufacture air and kitchen exhaust fan systems. Beginning in 2004, Halton had been a licensed product manufacturer for LCSystems.
The new Allen County plant will be ground-zero for an 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. Halton will employ its now-patented M.A.R.V.E.L. (Model-based Automated Regulation of Ventilation Exhaust Levels) system as a basis to design and build systems that, in addition to filtration/ventilation/fire suppression, are also designed for climate control.
The planet’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.
Speaking at the ceremony, Halton Chairman/Owner Mika Halttunen said Haltons’ design capabilities will reach other areas—even outdoor air treatment is a possibility, to help curb pollutants.
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.
The new plant is designed to support its 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.
For Thursday’s ceremony, Halton innovation was on display. Hamburgers were being cooked on Mobichef®, a new Halton innovation. The company is partnering with New Port Richey, Fla.,-based Welbilt—whose subsidiaries include Frymaster LLC and Garland Commercial Ranges Ltd. to create a clean-running, electric cooktop and air filtration station that quietly sucks the air coming off the cooking food directly into the filtration system. Despite cooking that many burgers indoors, there was no haze or smell.
These product lines are expected to take off well, leading to expansion—and jobs.
For now, Bagwell said, the new plant will start with a workforce of 20 people—14 transferred from the Scottsville K-1 plant, and six new hires. Phase II will see the workforce expand to as many as 50 jobs and—possibly within a decade—the plant workforce is expected to equal the K-1 plant’s 178-person workforce.
Bagwell was quick to credit the plant’s builder, Bowling Green-based Scott, Murphy and Daniel. Since the first construction materials went into the ground in January, the area had received 20 inches of rain.
Scott, Murphy and Daniel had worked doggedly to successfully meet the construction timeline under adverse circumstances, he said. For the same reason, he also praised utilities like North Central Telephone Cooperative, Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation, all subcontractors, and the City of Scottsville for its natural gas line installation project, and the coming sewer service. Bagwell thanked both the City of Scottsville and Allen Fiscal Court for their support.
For now, equipment is still coming in, but Bagwell said the plant will be fully-operational by mid-June, and possibly cranking out product by the end of June.
“We want some return on the investments as soon as possible,” he said.
The company itself is a big return on a lot of community investment, said a list of speakers at the ribbon-cutting.
“It would be hard to imagine a better corporate citizen than Halton,” State Rep. Wilson Stone (D-22nd District) said. Halton is known for 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 warehousing facility there possible. Bagwell himself has served on the Allen County Board of Education and the IDA.
Stone added that the efforts to get the new four-lane US 231 built were now paying off with the first new plant alongside it. The location offers quick access to Interstate 65 and US 31-E, and the park has strong potential for other industrial growth.
“This isn’t just 55,000 square feet,” Stone said. “It’s a major step in growing our community.”
Judge/Executive Dennis Harper thanked Halton for its confidence in the county and the fiscal court, and echoed Stone’s comment about Halton’s strong reputation for supporting community causes. Mayor Rob Cline said the ceremony marked one of his greatest days as Mayor since his first term began in 2003.
Halton CEO Kai Konola thanked state and local officials for their support of Halton over the years.
“You made this happen,” he said.
Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson attended as well, noting that this event had a special connection for him. He is the former judge/executive of Barren County, and remembered Halton’s decision to move from Glasgow, where Halton had established it first area plant in 1989, to Allen County in the late 1990s.
“The decision was in the best interests of the company, and Allen County,” he said.
Halttunen added that 2019 was a special year for Halton—the 50th anniversary of the company’s origin.
“It was 50 years ago, in 1969, that my father, Sepp, quit his corporate job and ventured into the risky world of entrepreneurs,” he said.
That leap proved to be a solid decision. Halton now has facilities in 35 countries, and will add Kenya and Kazakhstan to that list this year.