$20M investment to yield 75 jobs

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Suspension system manufacturer Hendrickson USA to open in E'town

By Marty Finley

A global suspension system manufacturer and supplier employing 450 Kentuckians will add 75 more jobs in Elizabethtown.

Hendrickson USA, LLC intends to construct a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the T.J. Patterson Industrial Park on North Black Branch Road. The job creation is part of a $20 million investment.

“They liked what they saw,” said Rick Games, president of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation.

Games said the facility will be on 30 or more acres of open land near UPS Supply Chain Solutions. The company plans to finish the facility by the end of the year. Games said Hendrickson is in a rush to get started.

EIF has been working with Hendrickson since August and coordinated site visits for representatives to review the area, Games said.

He did not have an estimate on a salary range for the jobs, but said they will be skilled labor positions offering competitive benefits. He also said the company is willing to train employees, which means applicants do not have to be specialists.

According to Gov. Steve Beshear’s office, the facility will supply products to Hendrickson operations in nearby states. Hardin County was a finalist for the facility — which will be “highly automated” — for its centralized location, workforce and training programs, according to the governor’s office.

“The fact that Hendrickson decided to locate here is further testament to our highly-skilled workforce that is a cornerstone of our thriving auto industry,” Beshear said Thursday in a statement. “Hendrickson has been a tremendous corporate partner to the commonwealth and I’m excited for this opportunity to put more Kentuckians back to work.”

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority gave a preliminary authorization of up to $1.55 million in tax incentives for the company as part of the Kentucky Business Investment Program, according to the governor’s office. These incentives are driven by performance and give companies the ability to retain a percentage of their investments through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments “by meeting job and investment targets,” according to the governor’s office.

Games said companies have to meet a minimum pay standard with benefits to be eligible for the incentive program. 

Hendrickson manufactures suspension systems and related components for heavy-duty vehicles, such as axle systems, springs, and bumper and trim components. It has established locations in Lebanon and Somerset and a facility in Clarksville, Tenn., according to the company’s official website.

Perry Bahr, vice president of Trailer Commercial Vehicle Systems for Hendrickson, said the company is pleased to be in a position to increase its presence in the state.

“Our team members in Kentucky have proven their dedication, loyalty and work ethic,” Bahr said in a statement. “Their efforts continue to help expand the Hendrickson business while maintaining our reputation in the commercial transportation industry as a global manufacturer and supplier of durable, dependable and quality suspension systems.”

Games said local officials are “thrilled” by its decision to invest here, describing Hendrickson as a reputable company with a sterling background and corporate history.

“They’re going to be a really good fit,” he said.

Games said it is satisfying to see months of negotiations and work to court an industry produce a commitment to the community.

“This is what you want to see happen,” he said. “It worked out well.”

Elizabethtown Mayor Edna Berger described the investment by Hendrickson as “awesome” and said the facility will bring well-paying jobs to a city open for development with a reliable and talented pool of workers.

Berger also said the addition of a company that develops truck trailer products further diversifies Elizabethtown’s “industrial backbone.”

“They seem to be … a (really) good corporate citizen,” Berger said. “I just couldn’t be happier.”

Judge-Executive Harry Berry said the announcement is the latest round of good news for the area, which he said has exceeded its pre-recession numbers for jobs in its industrial base. Berry said it is reflective of the attention turned to the growth and economic viability of the county.

“Success keeps breeding success,” he said.

Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.