BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM) announced the 2023 Manufacturer of the Year and Manufacturing Employee of the Year Award winners during its Kentucky Manufacturers Summit & Awards Dinner Thursday evening in Bowling Green.
“Manufacturing is the top driver of Kentucky’s economy, representing more than $34 billion of Gross Domestic Product,” said KAM President and CEO Frank Jemley. “The companies and individuals recognized tonight play vital roles in creating and sustaining well-paying jobs that support families and communities in our state while producing world class products for the global economy.”
It was a big night for Shelbyville-based voestalpine Roll Forming Corporation (RFC), which was honored with mid-size Manufacturer of the Year and with the Manufacturing Employee of the Year awards. RFC supplies custom roll formed metal components to several sectors, including aerospace, construction, material handling, office furniture, solar, and transportation. The company has operated in Shelby County since 1949.
Margo Williams of RFC was awarded the 2023 Kentucky Manufacturing Employee of the Year Award.
“Margo works incredibly hard to make a positive difference for people both inside and outside RFC,” said RFC President and CEO Kevin Dierking. “Margo is instrumental in leading our TogetherWeCare philanthropic program and makes an equally important impact internally through mentoring, providing excellent communication, and making sure everyone’s voice is heard and valued. She excels most when stepping out of her comfort zone and taking on new challenges.”
Dierking described winning KAM’s mid-size Manufacturer of the Year Award as a tremendous honor for the entire RFC team that reflects on the organization’s storied history while reinforcing the company’s position as a leader in the manufacturing sector.
“This award signifies that our commitment to safety, innovation, and community is recognized by industry experts and inspires us to maintain our relentless pursuit of creating customer value,” Dierking said. “Our culture is the basis for everything we do and is anchored around five core values — customer success is our success, own it, embrace the challenge, winning together, and we care. At RFC, we engineer and form some of the most unique and innovative metal solutions around the world, allowing our customers to remain one step ahead.”
In 2019, RFC launched TogetherWeCare, an employee driven initiative that encourages philanthropic behavior during working hours, making it easy for them to get involved. Organizations RFC employees have worked with include Adopt a Highway, The Salvation Army, Awake Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, Metro United Way, The Shelby County Public Schools Coat Drive, Shelbyville/Shelby County Parks & Recreation and many others, including charities and agencies benefitting veterans, tornado victims in Western Kentucky, and local food pantries.
Novelis received KAM’s large Manufacturer of the Year Award.
Novelis is the leading producer of flat-rolled aluminum products and the world’s largest recycler of aluminum.
With multiple operating sites throughout Kentucky — including ones of its newest facilities in Guthrie, Novelis operates an integrated network of technically advanced rolling and recycling facilities across North America, South America, Europe and Asia, leveraging its global manufacturing and recycling footprint to deliver consistent, high-quality products around the world.
As part of the Novelis Neighbor program, the Guthrie team supports the local school system with much-needed supplies, in addition to leading efforts for STEM implementation, healthcare and technology. Novelis employees volunteer to assist residents, nursing homes, small businesses, food pantries and emergency relief efforts.
Novelis also partners with Guthrie Main Street, Todd County Health Department, Guthrie Volunteer Fire and Rescue Departments, and the local police department.
“This is not only a testament to the partnerships fostered and investments made throughout our nearly 40-year history in Kentucky but to our dynamic, innovative, and skilled workforce that makes our success possible,” said Thomas Lilienthal, Novelis Plant Manager in Guthrie. “We are grateful for the collaboration with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, our valued partners and communities as we work together to fulfill the Novelis purpose of ‘shaping a sustainable world together.’”
Novelis is a subsidiary of Hindalco Industries Limited, an industry leader in aluminum, copper, and metals; and a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group based in Mumbai, India.
Skilcraft received KAM’s small Manufacturer of the Year Award.
Based in Burlington, Skilcraft is a 58-year-old company that handles complex sheet metal fabrication in a variety of industries, including aerospace, where it continues to innovate and utilize new techniques and materials.
The company’s largest customers are world changing leaders in the aviation and private space industry. Organizational Development Director Dean McKay said the company values working with customers looking for a partner.
The criteria considerations for the Manufacturer of the Year Award include “advocacy in promoting the advancement of manufacturing and industry in Kentucky, corporate citizenship providing leadership in making a key contribution to the quality of life in the Commonwealth, and innovation and entrepreneurial leadership in regards to products, production methods, or services.
Skilcraft prides itself on employees’ high standards, and floor operators at the company are trained to find their own mistakes during product manufacturing.
“Skilcraft is proud to be one of many contributors to the region’s thriving advanced manufacturing ecosystem, which is a vital industry for Northern Kentucky’s economic prosperity,” said Skilcraft General Manager John Zurborg.
McKay is the chair of the Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and was recognized for his service with a community award from the Northern Kentucky Area Development District.
To grow the region’s workforce, the company helps young people become familiar with the manufacturing industry. They work with students from the Boone County Area Technology Center (ATC), Ignite Institute, University of Cincinnati, and other local schools. Eight Skilcraft employees, five of whom have been with the company for 10 or more years, were previously ATC interns with the company.