By Abby Laub
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.
More 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.
Winchester – ale-8-one.com
Natural animal feed additives
Nicholasville – alltech.com
Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
Beer, bourbon and other spirits
Barrel House Distillery
Moonshine, rum, vodka
Big Ass Solutions
Industrial ceiling fans
Buffalo Trace Distillery
Frankfort – buffalotrace.com
Bulleit Distilling Co.
Lawrenceburg – bulleitbourbon.com
Irvine – carhartt.com
Danville – cat.com
Clark Material Handling Co.
Corning Display Technologies
Glass processes & products technology
Harrodsburg – corning.com
Country Boy Brewing
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
Wilmore – highbridgesprings.com
Commercial dishwashing equipment
Danville – hobartcorp.com
Jim Beam Brands
Frankfort – jimbeam.com
J.M. Smucker Co.
Jif peanut butter
Johnson Controls Inc.
Automotive foam pads
Animal, human supplements
Laura’s Lean Beef
Natural beef products
Richmond – lectrodryer.com
Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co.
Telescopic & lattice boom cranes
Military operations logistics support
Lore Brewing Co.
Danville – lorebrew.com
Lucas Equine Equipment
Stall components, farm gates
Cynthiana – lucasequine.com
Mingua Beef Jerky
Paris – minguabeefjerky.com
Nacco Materials Handling Group
Berea – nmhg.com
Food & animal safety products
Old Kentucky Candies
Fluorescent/tungsten halogen lamps
Versailles/Winchester – sylvania.com
Pittsburgh Glass Works
Berea – pgwglass.com
Commercial lighting solutions
Quillin Leather & Tack
Equine halters & equipment
Paris – quillin.com
Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory
Frankfort – rebeccaruth.com
Red Wing Shoe Co.
Danville – redwingshoes.com
Paperboard folding boxes
Nicholasville – rocktenn.com
Rocky Top Log Furniture & Railing
Log furniture & railing
Ruggles Sign Co.
Versailles – rugglessign.com
Sargent & Greenleaf
Nicholasville – sargentandgreenleaf.com
Square D electrical safety switches
Lexington – sharpscandies.com
Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corp.
Richmond – sherwin-automotive.com
Tiffany & Co.
Brake & suspension systems
Berea – tokicousa.com
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky
Georgetown – toyotageorgetown.com
Trane Commercial Systems
Trim Masters Inc.
Automotive interior trim
US IOL Inc.
Vermont Castings Group
Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves
Paris – vermontcastings.com
Paper towels & tissues
Harrodsburg – wausaupaper.com
Webasto Roof Systems Inc.
Midway – weisenberger.com
West Sixth Brewing Co.
Wild Turkey Distillery
Woodford Reserve Distillery
Versailles – woodfordreserve.com