Home » Bluegrass Market Review | Central Ky. plants make iPhone glass, Toyotas, Jif, bourbon, Tiffany rings and more

Bluegrass Market Review | Central Ky. plants make iPhone glass, Toyotas, Jif, bourbon, Tiffany rings and more

By Abby Laub

Corning Inc. in Harrodsburg received $200 million from Apple’s new Advanced Manufacturing Fund as part of the company’s commitment to foster innovation among American manufacturers in May 2017.
Corning Inc. in Harrodsburg received $200 million from Apple’s new Advanced Manufacturing Fund as part of the company’s commitment to foster innovation among American manufacturers in May 2017.

Central Kentucky may be better known for “making” the world’s top Thoroughbreds and a large percentage of its increasingly popular bourbon, but Lexington and its surrounding counties also boast other major manufacturing facilities, most notably Toyota’s largest plant outside Japan, its 8.1 million s.f. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky.

mrbg-cover300More than 11 million cars have rolled off its lines. In 2015 TMMK began production of the Lexus ES sedan; and the facility celebrated the 30th anniversary of its groundbreaking in 2016. In 2017, TMMK – already one of the world’s leading automotive plants by efficiency, productivity and technology – underwent a $1.33 billion upgrade to increase its manufacturing flexibility.

“This investment is absolute proof the Kentucky Toyota plant is not only a leader in manufacturing under the Toyota umbrella, but throughout the world,” said Gov. Matt Bevin. “It directly points to the hard work and dedication of the plant’s employees, as well as Toyota’s commitment to our commonwealth. This project further distinguishes Kentucky as we work toward widespread recognition as an engineering and manufacturing hub of excellence in North America.”

The upgrade project prepared TMMK for Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA, a new approach to the design and manufacturing of vehicles. The Georgetown plant became the first North American facility to use TNGA, starting in June 2017 with the 2018 Camry.

With an annual production capacity of 550,000 vehicles and more than 600,000 engines, TMMK team members produce the Camry and Camry Hybrid, Avalon and Avalon Hybrid, Lexus ES 350, and four-cylinder and V6 engines, axles and steering and engine components.

Indirectly, TMMK helps fosters a number of regional businesses, such as nearby Webasto Roof Systems, which has a vehicle sunroof and components production facility in Lexington and 1,100 employees. A recent study completed by the Center for Automotive Research indicates that every Toyota job in Kentucky creates nearly three more across the commonwealth.

A diverse manufacturing landscape

Other than TMMK, Central Kentucky hosts a vibrant and diverse scene of manufacturers. This is facilitated partly due to the fact that more than 40 percent of the population 25 years or older in Lexington has at least a bachelor’s degree – a statistic that ranks the city as the 13th most highly educated in the nation. And 17 percent of the population has an advanced degree. 

Lockheed Martin, the Maryland-based global security company, employees about 1,100 workers at its Bluegrass Station facility in eastern Fayette County. Trane Lexington, which manufactures residential, commercial and industrial air heating and cooling parts and systems, employs about 1,000 workers at its facility. Lexington-based Big Ass Solutions, which produces low-energy, high-volume industrial ceiling fans – employs nearly 700 workers at its plant and research headquarters.

At its 500,000-s.f. Lexington facility, Link-Belt is a world leader in crane manufacturing. Its annual CraneFest event draws attendance from around the world.  

On the horizon, a new advanced manufacturing food production company, More Than a Bakery, broke ground in summer 2016 on a $57 million, 250,000-s.f. facility in Woodford County.

Bourbon is one of the most recognizable products globally made in the Bluegrass, and its popularity only continues to grow, producers are trying to keep up.

In the summer of 2017, the historic Buffalo Trace Distillery announced it is considering a $42.6 million expansion of its Frankfort facilities and upgrading its bottling operation.

And in Danville, Denyo Manufacturing Corp. announced plans for an $8.6 million expansion to its facilities and operations. The project will include the construction of an additional building and purchase of new equipment. It is expected to add 90 new jobs to Danville-Boyle County’s tax base. The new 63,000-s.f. facility, which is expected to be operational by October 2018, will be constructed on the current Denyo campus for fabrication of sheet metal components used in generator and air compressor assembly.

“We welcome the news of Denyo’s continued growth. It is remarkable that Denyo’s only operation in the Western Hemisphere is located and expanding right here in Danville, when it could choose to operate anywhere to serve the North American market. This is a testament not only to our community’s strong support of local industry, but also to the quality and productivity of our workforce,” said Danville Mayor Mike Perros in a press release.

Here are more manufacturing operations in Central Kentucky:


Post-it products, Scotch Tape Cynthiana

Ceramic inserts for bullet proof vests Lexington

Cynthiana – mmm.com

Ale-8-One Bottling Co.

Soft drinks

Winchester – ale-8-one.com

Alltech Inc.

Natural animal feed additives

Nicholasville – alltech.com

Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.

Beer, bourbon and other spirits


Audio Authority

Media switches


Barrel House Distillery

Moonshine, rum, vodka


Big Ass Solutions

Industrial ceiling fans


Buffalo Trace Distillery


Frankfort – buffalotrace.com

Bulleit Distilling Co.


Lawrenceburg – bulleitbourbon.com

Carhartt Inc.

Work clothing

Irvine – carhartt.com

Caterpillar Inc.

Tractor components

Danville – cat.com

Clark Material Handling Co.



Corning Display Technologies

Glass processes & products technology

Harrodsburg – corning.com

Country Boy Brewing

Craft beer

Lexington & Georgetown – countryboybrewing.com

Denyo Manufacturing Corp.

High-output diesel generators

Danville – denyo.co.jp/english


High-security locking solutions


Florida Tile Inc.

Porcelain & ceramic tile

Lawrenceburg – floridatile.com

Four Roses Distillery


Lawrenceburg – fourrosesbourbon.com


Dixie Cup cups & plates


Highbridge Spring Water

Bottled water

Wilmore – highbridgesprings.com


Commercial dishwashing equipment

Danville – hobartcorp.com

International Paper

Corrugated boxes


Jim Beam Brands


Frankfort – jimbeam.com

J.M. Smucker Co.

Jif peanut butter


Johnson Controls Inc.

Automotive foam pads


Kinetic Technologies

Animal, human supplements


Laura’s Lean Beef

Natural beef products



Liquid dryers

Richmond – lectrodryer.com

Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co.

Telescopic & lattice boom cranes


Lockheed Martin

Military operations logistics support


Lore Brewing Co.

Craft beer

Danville – lorebrew.com

Lucas Equine Equipment

Stall components, farm gates

Cynthiana – lucasequine.com

Mingua Beef Jerky

Paris – minguabeefjerky.com

Nacco Materials Handling Group

Lift trucks

Berea – nmhg.com

Neogen Corp.

Food & animal safety products


Old Kentucky Candies


Osram Sylvania

Fluorescent/tungsten halogen lamps

Versailles/Winchester – sylvania.com

Parker Seal

Engineered o-rings


Pittsburgh Glass Works


Berea – pgwglass.com

Q-Lighting Inc.

Commercial lighting solutions


Quillin Leather & Tack

Equine halters & equipment

Paris – quillin.com

Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory

Frankfort – rebeccaruth.com

Red Wing Shoe Co.

Work boots

Danville – redwingshoes.com


Paperboard folding boxes

Nicholasville – rocktenn.com

Rocky Top Log Furniture & Railing 

Log furniture & railing

Lancaster –rockytoplogfurniture.com

Rogers Windows



Ruggles Sign Co.

Commercial signage

Versailles – rugglessign.com

Sargent & Greenleaf

Security locks

Nicholasville – sargentandgreenleaf.com

Schneider Electric

Square D electrical safety switches


Sharp’s Candies

Lexington – sharpscandies.com

Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corp.

Automotive coatings/finishes

Richmond – sherwin-automotive.com

Tiffany & Co.

Luxury jewelry


Tokico Inc.

Brake & suspension systems

Berea – tokicousa.com

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky

Automobiles, engines

Georgetown – toyotageorgetown.com

Trane Commercial Systems

Air systems


Trim Masters Inc.

Automotive interior trim






Intraocular lenses


Vermont Castings Group

Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves

Paris – vermontcastings.com

Wausau Paper

Paper towels & tissues

Harrodsburg – wausaupaper.com

Webasto Roof Systems Inc.

Automotive sunroofs


Weisenberger Mills

Baking products

Midway – weisenberger.com

West Sixth Brewing Co.

Craft beer


Wild Turkey Distillery


Lawrenceburg –


Woodford Reserve Distillery

Versailles – woodfordreserve.com