Home » Making their mark: NKY manufacturers produce variety of well-known products, employ thousands

Making their mark: NKY manufacturers produce variety of well-known products, employ thousands

From Market Review of Northern Kentucky

Donna Salyers stands amid an assortment of faux furs while holding an award the from the NKY Chamber of Commerce.

By Lorie Hailey

Spurred by the idea that fashion didn’t need to come at the cost of cruelty to animals, Covington resident Donna Salyers created a faux fur coat sewing kit over 30 years ago and soon became known around the world as a fashion trendsetter. Today, Donna’s Fabulous Furs is a $16 million dollar company that employs nearly 90 people and is the go-to luxury fur alternative.

Salyers’ company has outgrown its workspace six times since it began. Today, its headquarters is located in the former Wadsworth Electric building in downtown Covington, a multi-level historic building where employees design, market and stitch together fashion pieces from a vast collection of fur styles and colors.

On the first floor, Salyers and her team have set up a video recording studio to debut new products on home shopping channels and other media outlets, a change necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And because many of her products are purchased online, the Fabulous Furs HQ also has an entire warehouse and shipping department dedicated to getting ordered items in the mail as soon as possible.

Donna’s Fabulous Furs has been featured in numerous newspapers and fashion magazines, as well as television shows, movies and Broadway theaters. Among the highlights: In 2017, the actress playing Carole King in “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical!” wore a Fabulous Furs parka; actress and singer Jennifer Hudson wore a Fabulous Furs piece on the cover of O Magazine, as has Editorial Director Oprah Winfrey herself; and characters on the television shows “Empire,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “The Mysteries of Laura,” and more have worn Fabulous Furs.

The luxurious faux fur coats and accessories are among many notable products made in Northern Kentucky. With a strong machine tool history and a unique geographic advantage, the region has become a hub for modern advanced manufacturing facilities that serve many industries and create a variety of products: precision aircraft and automotive parts, playing cards, safety identification tags and bracelets, Airheads candy, rifles, Keebler cookies, cocktail sausages, L’Oreal hair care products, bourbon and other spirits, and much more.

NKY is even home to a company that designs and manufactures the advanced manufacturing machine tools that are used by manufacturers across the globe. At its North American headquarters in Florence, Mazak produces a wide range of multitasking machines, 5-axis, turning and milling machines that use its trademarked iSmart Factory system, which utilizes state-of-the-art automation, plantwide connectivity, free-flow data sharing and a fully optimized production flow to enhance service and efficiency.

Mazak’s three-building campus, which has 536,000 s.f. of manufacturing capacity, is the hub for eight technology centers, five technical centers and dozens of distributors across North America.

“Continuously investing in manufacturing technology allows the Kentucky Mazak iSMART Factory to be the most advanced and efficient in the industry, providing high-quality and reliable products through its ‘production-on-demand’ practice,” the company said.

As part of a $15 million investment, Mazak in July 2020 opened its newly expanded Spindle Rebuild Department. In its manufacturing plant, Mazak installed a new state-of-the-art manufacturing cell with a fully automated storage and retrieval system, six of the company’s most advanced machine tools and several of its Mazak digital process monitoring solutions. The upgrades to the production facility, which has been expanded nearly 20 times since it opened in 1974, allow the company to satisfy growing customer demand and provide the shortest possible turnaround times, according to a company press release.

New facility and expansion activity continue

Eleven advanced manufacturing projects invested more than $117 million and brought 577 new jobs to Northern Kentucky in 2020, according to data from Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. (NKY Tri-ED), the region’s economic development company.

Through its business retention and expansion outreach program, Tri-ED worked with Bonfiglioli North America to support the company’s decision to nearly double its operations with a $5.2 million investment and add 75 jobs in unincorporated Boone County, the company’s North American headquarters. Bonfiglioli opened its 75,000-s.f. manufacturing space expansion in
March 2020.

In February 2020, Camco Chemical Co. completed an expansion of its facility in Independence. Camco is a supply chain services company providing turnkey chemical contract manufacturing, warehousing and fulfillment services. The expansion increased Camco’s capacity of its liquid blending and bottling operations. Camco also opened a new 100,000-s.f. warehouse in Florence in July 2020, opening up more space at its existing manufacturing facility that will result in additional capacity and capabilities in the long term.

Camco also helped manufacture and provide personal protective equipment to the region’s health care and emergency workers at the beginning of the pandemic.

Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties are home to well over 400 manufacturers of all sizes, according to 2020 planning data from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development (KCED). Production work accounts for nearly 15% of jobs in Boone County.

NKY is home to more than 40 companies that make auto parts components and engines, as well as those that specialize in advanced automation; chemicals, plastics and composites; and distribution. The region’s major auto manufacturing employers include Mubea, where 1,017 employees make tailored rolled blanks and precision springs; and Robert Bosch Automotive Steering, where 1,200 employees make steering gears and columns.

In the past five years, KCED announced more than 75 manufacturing facility locations and expansions, a reported capital investment of nearly $710 million and 2,385 additional jobs. Some of the biggest investments included: the 2016 expansion of airplane brake disc manufacturer Messier-Bugatti USA in Walton, a $150 million investment that created an additional 84 jobs; a $73 million investment in the 2017 expansion of Mubea Tailor Rolled Blanks in Florence, creating an additional 118 jobs; back-to-back expansions of the Tyson/Hillshire Brands food plant in Alexandria, where nearly $85 million was invested in 2016 and 2017; and a $40 million investment in a new Whitehall Inc. plant in Hebron, which manufactures fresh and frozen bread products.

Here is a sampling of manufacturers in the tri-county area:

A.O. Smith Co.

Water heaters, boilers and storage tanks

Florence

Active Radiator

Truck and industrial radiators

Dayton

Anderson Manufacturing

AR-15 Rifles

Hebron

Aquionics Inc.

UV, water, air and surface purification systems

Erlanger

AquiSense Technologies

LED devices

Erlanger

ATech Training

Automotive technology training devices

Walton

Balluff

Industrial networking, object detection

Florence

Beam Dental

Smart toothbrushes

Erlanger

Beckman Coulter

Diagnostic tests/equipment

Florence

Beverly International Nutrition

Sports nutrition manufacturer

Cold Spring

Blue Grass Quality Meats

Deli meats

Erlanger

Bonfiglioli USA

Speed changer, industrial high-speed drive and gear manufacturing; USA headquarters

Hebron

Boone County Distilling Co.

Bourbon, rye and other whiskey specialties

Independence

Braxton Brewing

Craft beer

Covington

Camco Chemical Co.

Blending, warehousing liquid, powder chemical products

Florence

Carl Zeiss Vision

Optical lab

Hebron

Clarion Corp. of America

Car audio, multimedia products

Walton

Club Chef

Processors of fresh-cut produce

Covington

Crescent Paper Tube Co.

Paper tubes, paperboard products, cores, caps

Florence

Dixie Dew Products Co.

Ice cream toppings

Erlanger

DURO Bag, a Novolex Brand

Paper bags for fast food

Walton

Emerson’s Bakery

Baked goods

Florence

Ethos Labs

Drug tests

Newport

Fabritec International

Professional dry cleaning detergents,

wet cleaning soap, spotting chemicals

Florence

Flint Group

Printing inks

Erlanger

Fortress Interlocks

Safety access and control systems

Erlanger

Fuji Autotech USA

Automotive seat components

Walton

GES

Trade show exhibits, store fixtures

Hebron

Givaudan Flavors

Fragrance and flavor

Florence

Glier’s Meats

German breakfast sausage

Covington

GorillaMaker

3D Printing

Florence

Graham Packaging

Plastic bottles

Florence

Grandpa Brands Co.

Personal care products

Erlanger

Greif

Rigid industrial packaging, steel drums

Florence

Griffin Industries

Animal rendering services

Cold Spring

Hahn Automation

Industrial equipment and technology

Hebron

Halperns’ Steak & Seafood

Cutting and grinding of beef, chicken, seafood

Walton

HDT Global

Military air conditioning, heaters, decontamination units

Florence

Hennegan Co.

Offset printing

Florence

Hydra-Tone Chemicals

Specialty chemicals, detergents, lubricants

Hebron

International Mold Steel

Steel for plastic and rubber molds

Florence

International Paper

Printing plant, packaging materials

Walton

Iofina Chemical

Select halogen specialty chemicals, iodine

Covington

Jack’s Glass

Home and auto glass solutions

Elsmere

Jewel-Craft

Jewelry

Erlanger

J-Fab

Florence

Johnson Controls – Power Solutions

Lead acid batteries

Florence

Kellogg Snacks

Keebler products

Florence

Kona Ice

Premium tropical shaved ice

Florence

Lingo Manufacturing Co.

Custom point-of-purchase displays

Florence

Linkology

Security systems for parking garages

Newport

L’Oreal USA-Florence Manufacturing

Hair care products

Florence

LSI

Menu boards

Florence

Lyons Magnus

Flavorings and juices

Walton

Mazak Corp.

CNC turning centers, vertical machining centers, horizontal machining centers, multitasking machines, 5-axis machines

Florence

Meggitt Polymers & Composites

Composite engine and aerostructure components

Erlanger

Meyer Tool

Precision aircraft parts

Erlanger

Mila International

Surgical devices for pets

Florence

Mubea

Lightweight construction specialist providing heavy-duty spring components

Florence

Mubea Precision Springs

Transmission springs and hose clamps

Florence

National Band & Tag Co.

Poultry leg and wing bands, bands used for wildlife, ID tags

Newport

New Riff Distilling

Craft distillery

Newport

Newly Weds Foods

Cracker and bread crumbs, batter mixes

Erlanger

Nor-Com

Communications systems
and A/V integrator

Hebron

North American Stainless L.P.

Steel

Ghent

Novolex

Paper products

Florence

Pepsico

Snacks, foods and beverages

Erlanger

Perfetti van Melle

Airheads candy

Erlanger

P L Marketing

Kroger corporate branding products

Newport

PG LifeLink

Isolated power systems

Erlanger

Purestream

Sewage treatment equipment

Walton

R & R Design & Manufacturing

Conveyor & automation systems

Florence

Road ID

Road ID Bracelets

Fort Mitchell

Robert Bosch Automotive

Steering columns

Florence

Ronan Engineering Co.

Measuring equipment, radiation gauges

and measuring instruments

Florence

Safran Landing Systems

Carbon brakes for airplanes

Walton

Schwan’s Global Supply Chain

Frozen pizzas

Florence

Sherwood Midwest

Bedding, mattresses

Walton

Skilcraft

Surgical products, surgical device production, contract medical devices

Burlington

SpecTape Inc.

Pressure-sensitive tape

Erlanger

Sterling Ventures

Limestone mine, crushed stone

Verona

Stewart Iron Works

Ornamental iron fencing and gates

Erlanger

Studio Vertu

Italian marble products

Newport

TeeSpring

Custom tee shirts

Hebron

Total Display Solutions

LCD panels for computer video displays and television LCD panes

Erlanger

Toyota Boshoku America

Automotive interior systems

Erlanger

Tressa

Professional hair products

Erlanger

Trophy Awards Manufacturing

Awards, trophies, plaques, gifts, promotional items

Wilder

Tyson/Hillshire Brands

Lunch meat, hot dogs, smoked sausages

Alexandria

United Dairy Farmers

Ice cream

US Playing Card Co.

Playing cards

Erlanger

ViaCord

Umbilical cord preservation

Hebron

The Waddington Group

Plastic, disposable cups, plates, cutlery

Covington

White Castle Distributing

Burger processing

Covington

Wild Flavors

Flavor technology

Erlanger

Wolf Steel USA

High-end fireplaces, grills, HVAC

Crittenden

Zenith Motors

Electric shuttle and cargo vans

Wilder

ZF Boge Elastmetall

Transmissions, steering systems, axles

Hebron l

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