Market Review | Manufacturers continue to invest

Companies benefit from solid workforce, phenomenal logistics and government support

By Abby Laub

Ford invested $1.3 billion to upgrade facilities at its 48-year-old Kentucky Truck Plant. KTP and Louisville Assembly Plant together produce around 2,000 vehicles a day.
Ford invested $1.3 billion to upgrade facilities at its 48-year-old Kentucky Truck Plant. KTP and Louisville Assembly Plant together produce around 2,000 vehicles a day.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer participated in the May 2017 groundbreaking of Linak U.S. Inc.’s $33 million expansion, which will create 413 full-time jobs. Linak’s expansion is emblematic of the high quality of the region’s manufacturing workforce.

MRGLSI2017-300Linak’s plant, which manufactures linear actuators for hospital beds, office desks, farm equipment and other uses, has steadily grown in the last 20 years. Thanks to Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana’s strategic location, abundance of water, government support, low cost of doing business and a formidable workforce, manufacturers can count on successful operation.

And while downtown may be known for production of the iconic Louisville Slugger baseball bat, the entire region is chock full of formidable manufacturing operations including Girl Scout Cookies, vehicles, bourbon, chemical catalysts, airline seating, billiard tables, automotive stamping, Pillsbury dough, water heaters and much more.

Some of the region’s biggest manufacturers, like Ford Motor Co., enjoy continued growth. In 2016 Ford announced an additional investment to support facility upgrades and new machinery and tooling, mainly for the Kentucky Truck Plant. In December 2015, Ford announced an investment of $1.3 billion and an additional 2,000 new jobs for production of the F-Series Super Duty truck. In June 2017 it announced Ford would build 8,500 additional Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC vehicles at Louisville Assembly Plant.

Regional growth

In Southern Indiana, River Ridge Development Authority anticipates another big year at its 6,000-acre Jeffersonville site. The board of directors of the megasite – it includes manufacturing and office space – approved a first round of projects for 2017 involving nearly $8 million in investment in infrastructure and demolition. In 2016, 30 projects were initiated and the completion of the nearby Lewis and Clark Bridge as part of the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project spurred a lot of development.

In Bullitt County, officials are ramping up development of more space for businesses, manufacturing or otherwise. The area benefits from having major logistical benefits and more available land.

Bullitt County Economic Development Authority Executive Director John Snider said the county has a strong automative manufacturing sector and that the area is all about “location no matter what. Staying close to I-65 pays,” he said. I-65 splits Bullitt north-south, and interstates 64 and 71 are only 11 miles away.

He said Bullitt plans to have roughly 2 million s.f. of new space built in the county in 2017, mostly in Cedar Grove Industrial Park, which already has almost 9.2 million s.f. Manufacturers also will benefit from new infrastructure.

“We expect Cedar Grove to have a new interchange to I-65 to be started next year,” he said. “Shepherdsville is spending $4.2 million for an access road.”

In Jeffersonville, Ind., America Place touts a business park with 20 brick buildings at dock height and nine ground buildings perfect for drive-in doors. It also has a build-to-suit park with spaces up to 300,000 s.f. America Places offers ideal options for printing, manufacturing, storage, office and distribution operations.

Manufacturing is a major industry in Hardin County also. Rick Games, president and COO of Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation, said manufacturing jobs represent 15.5 percent of total county employment.

Site Selection magazine ranked the Elizabethtown MSA ninth in corporate facility investment among MSAs with populations of 200,000 or less, and it made the Top 20 list for The U.S. Cities Where Manufacturing is Thriving. Also, the three-county MSA created 1,300 jobs last year; a growth rate of 2.3 percent compared to a national average of 1 percent, Games cited.

“Elizabethtown has benefited from nearly $300 million in industrial investments made in the last five years,” Games said. “These include Metalsa, Hendrickson, Altec and several other companies. During that time, we’ve had 11 major industrial location or expansion announcements. Netherlands-based Eurotrol is the latest.”

Games credits great logistics, fantastic manufacturing employees and the ability to draw people from outside the county for Hardin County’s success in this sector. Hardin County is part of the KY FAME’s Lincoln Trail chapter and has multiple technical career pathways in its local school systems.

The county is home to the two largest automotive suppliers in the state, Akebono Brake Corp. and Metalsa, which makes frames for the Ford F150. Roughly 750,000 truck frames roll out of the county every year.

In Louisville, FirstBuild continues to crank out new appliances. The partnership between Louisville-based GE Appliances and Local Motors includes a “microfactory” and is creating a new model for the appliance industry.

Future innovators also are continually on the mind of the region’s manufacturers. In April top robotic teams representing more than 30 nations competed in the 10th VEX Robotics World Championship at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The event draws 1,100 teams made up of 15,000 students ranging in age from elementary school through college. They are the best of the best, and have competed against 16,000 teams to advance to the championship. During VEX Worlds, these teams compete in games using robots constructed to overcome engineering challenges.

GE Appliances now conducts virtual tours of its Appliance Park plant in Louisville to Jefferson County students to help them learn about the types of careers modern manufacturing offers.

The work from educators, manufacturers and government officials alike is paying off as announcements continue to pour into the region.

Following is a sample of manufacturers based in the region. All are located in Louisville unless indicated.

Abell Elevator

Vertical transportation


Air filtration products

Jeffersonville, Ind. –

Akebono Brake Corporation

Auto disc, drum brakes

Elizabethtown, Ky.

Algood Foods

Private-label peanut butter, jellies, preserves

American Fuji Seal Inc.

Container shrink labels

Bardstown, Ky. –

American Greetings Corp.

Greeting cards

Bardstown, Ky. –

American Printing House for the Blind Inc.

Educational, daily living products

BAE Systems

Military equipment

Balfour Co. Inc.

High school/college announcements

Beach Mold & Tool Inc.

Injection-molded plastics

New Albany, Ind. –

BFW Inc.

Fiberoptic headlight systems

Bourbon Barrel Foods

Condiments, spices

Bowles Mattress Co.

Lady Americana mattresses

Jeffersonville, Ind. –

Caldwell Tanks Inc.

Steel water tanks, towers

Cardinal Aluminum Co.

Custom aluminum extrusions

Clariant Corp

Specialty chemicals

Compass Manufacturing International

Kitchen, bath products

Cox Interior

Interior moulding, trim

Campbellsville, Ky. –

D.A. Inc.

Automotive parts

Charlestown, Ind. –

Dawn Food Products Inc.

Bakery mixes, fillings, coatings

D. D. Williamson & Co.

Carmel food/beverage colorings

Derby City Shine

Premium moonshine

Derby Dental Laboratory

Crowns, bridges, dentures

Discount Labels Inc.

Labels, rubber stamps

New Albany, Ind. –

Drexel Metals Inc.

Metal roofing products

Finchville Farms

Country ham/seasoned bacon

Finchville –

FireKing Security Group

Fireproof safes, files

New Albany, Ind. –

Ford Motor Co.

Super Duty Trucks, F-250, F-550,

Expedition, Navigator, Escape

GE Appliances

Water heaters, dishwashers,

refrigerators, washers

General Mills

Pillsbury refrigerated dough

New Albany, Ind. –

Green Bull

Professional-use ladders

Grindmaster Corporation

Beverage, food equipment

Haas Cabinet Co. Inc.

Kitchen cabinets

Sellersburg, Ind. –

Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Inc.

Louisville Slugger baseball bats

Hunter Knepshield

Modular park buildings,

sports lighting

LaGrange, Ky. –


Industrial mixers

New Albany, Ind. –

Jeffboat LLC

Inland ships

Jeffersonville, Ind. –

KACI (Katayama
American Co. Inc.)

Automotive door sashes, moldings

Shelbyville, Ky. –

Kelley Technical Coatings

Pool, deck tennis/basketball

court coatings

K-I Lumber

Building material

Shelbyville, Ky. –

Kentucky Trailer

Custom vans, trailers

Kern’s Kitchen

Derby-Pie dessert

Kitchen Kompact Inc.

Kitchen/bath cabinets

Jeffersonville, Ind. –

Lantech Inc.

Stretch-wrapping equipment

Linak U.S. Inc.

Healthcare equipment, furniture, desks

Little Brownie Bakers

Girl Scout cookies

Lear Corporation

Automotive seating

Louisville Bedding

Bed pillows, processed fiber

Louisville Golf Club Co.

Custom clubs under the Persimmon brand

Louisville Stoneware

Stone plates, bowls

Mesa Foods

Corn and flour products

MedVenture Technology

Medical devices

Jeffersonville, Ind. –


Engineered assembled metallic automotive products

Elizabethtown, Ky. –

Multi Packaging Solutions

Printer of home

entertainment products

Nationwide Uniform Corp.

Security/police/postal uniforms

Hodgenville, Ky.

Papercone Corporation

Specialty envelopes, soft packages

Paradise Tomato Kitchens

Custom sauces

Peerless Gear

Outdoor equipment transmissions

Salem, Ind. –

Peptides International

Biological products, research supplies

PPG Architectural Finishes Inc./Porter Paints

Residential paints, stains

Premier Packaging Inc.

Corrugated boxes

Buechel, Ky. –

Publishers Printing

Magazines, labels

Shepherdsville, Ky. –

Purnell’s “Old Folks” Sausage

Sausage products

Simpsonville, Ky. –

Radio Sound Inc.

Sound systems

Raque Food Systems LLC

Food product-packaging machines

Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products Inc.

Frozen biscuits, pancakes, dry mixes

Raytheon Co.

Defense weapons systems

Rev-A-Shelf LLC

Home storage, organization products

Jeffersontown, Ky. –

Restonic New Albany

Restonic mattresses

New Albany, Ind. –

Reynolds Packing Group

Aluminum foil

Rooibee Red Tea

Bottled organic tea

Samtec Inc.

Electronic interconnect products

New Albany, Ind. –

Stanley Black & Decker

Professional power tools

Shelbyville, Ky. –

Steepleton Co.

Billiard tables

Superior Van & Mobility

Vehicle mobility systems

Louisville –

Sypris Solutions Inc.

Data acquisition/storage systems

Tower International

Metal, automotive stampings,


Bardstown, Ky. –

Tyson Foods Inc.

Poultry deli products

Corydon, Ind. –



Zeon Chemicals

Innovative polymers

Zoeller Company

Sewage pump systems