The ceremonial grand opening of Plastikon’s expanded manufacturing facility on Commerce Drive took place Wednesday morning, as company dignitaries from as far away as California were on hand, along with politicians, business leaders and local luminaries.
The addition of the new 110,000 square-foot warehouse and office space brings Plastikon’s total square footage to over 200,000, as the company continues to churn out plastic injection moldings for the automotive industry.
The construction of the new facility took over a year and cost over $10 million, with company CEO Bernard Fried saying that, “Expanding in Leitchfield was the obvious choice for expansion, as far as I was concerned.”
Plastikon and its subsidiary, Inplast Industries USA LLC, operate nine facilities throughout the world providing plastic products to the automotive, medical and consumer sectors.
Plastikon, which arrived in Leitchfield 10 years ago, originally had 10 employees, but has since grown to over 400.
Plastikon workers and attendees gathered in the massive warehouse to hear Plant Manager John Yates, Leitchfield Mayor William Thomason, as well as the aforementioned Plastikon CEO Bernard Fried, briefly speak on the company expansion, with the trio serving as a grand warm-up act for Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who was on hand to celebrate the occasion.
Being introduced to a rousing standing ovation, Bevin spoke for nearly seven minutes, praising the hourly employees of Plastikon, as well as company management. The Governor also noted that it’s the job of politicians to make expansion similar to Plastikon’s easier for companies to execute by passing pro-business legislation.
“This is what I enjoy about being governor,” Bevin said as he began his remarks. “Frankly, and this may come as a shocker to you, but there are many things about being governor that I don’t enjoy. And yet, this is one of the things that I do enjoy.”
“I was the second of six kids and my dad always worked in places like this, (but) they were never this nice. My dad made things his entire life and raised us to understand the value of producing things. And always give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and never take something that you didn’t deserve. These were basic, simple things. These are the kinds of things you all embody. You come to work every day, you feed your families, you make decisions with the dollars you earn; pour it back into the community.
“What Plastikon means to this community is, frankly, beyond the ability to articulate into words. It really is. It’s grown from 10 people to 410 people. Now more than 60 machines making the most cutting edge plastic components for the automotive industry and beyond.
“It’s remarkable, in this little community in Grayson County, in this tiny little corner of the world. And the way it happens … yes legislation helps, yes, what government does makes an impact, there’s no question about it. But I’m grateful for the fact that you have a great representative here in Senator (Steve) Meredith, who is here with us today, and Senate President Robert Stivers is here. This is a guy who has been instrumental in making sure policies are passed so that we can actually get things done and make it possible for the Plastikons of the world to grow and grow easily. To grow easily here instead of somewhere else, because there are a lot of places people could go, there’s other places you could work, but our job is to make it easier for them to employ here so they can make this a place you choose to be employed at. Where your friends wish they could be employed at.
“Because where places are focused on safety and innovation and cutting edge equipment and cutting edge facilities, nice office space, nice warehouse space … the stuff that’s in here is phenomenal, the cleanliness of this place is impressive.
“Who wouldn’t want to come and work at a place like this?
“And I thank each and every one of you for making it what it is today. I’m truly grateful to you.
“I actually have been in manufacturing for much of my life; this is the first political job I’ve ever had. I’ve always been involved on the business side of things. So I’m truly grateful to you and I appreciate what you’re doing to make it possible for the next generation. I appreciate the fact that the next generation of leadership of this company is here, and are invested in this company.
“Thank you. Thank you for being men and women who work, and I mean that sincerely. There’s too many of your fellow Kentuckians who are as able-bodied as you are who choose to try and work the system. You’re paying their freight and paying your own freight.
“Thank you for being people who work. Thank you for making things, thank you for your dedication to Plastikon, and thank you to the leadership of Plastikon for the things that you do that make this a great Kentucky company and a great American company. I am truly grateful to you.”
Local leaders presenting Gov. Bevin with a baseball bat manufactured by Grayson County's Middleground Golf and Bat Company. (l-r) Leitchfield City Clerk Lori Woosley, GC School Board Chair Carolyn Thomason, Gov. Matt Bevin, Leitchfield Mayor William Thomason.