Near Cecilia stands a towering building surrounded by farm land.
Flex Films USA on North Black Branch Road is the tallest building in Elizabethtown, or so Vijay Yadav, business head, was told. Although, he said he hasn’t measured it himself.
The company is a part of a larger organization based out of India with seven divisions involved in films and laminating, he said.
The 180,000-square-foot facility that sits on 32 acres in Elizabethtown was commissioned in 2011 and the first manufactured product in the plant occurred in 2013.
The company has an option to buy two or three more plots to expand to more production lines in the future.
Flex Films employs 130 workers from the area and global talent.
The building is completely air conditioned with pristine conditions because much of their film is used in food packaging, Yadav said, adding the film is a high-quality product that maintains freshness. There are no bugs found or allowed in the entire facility, he said.
The company, he said, felt Kentucky was very responsive and supportive when they were looking for a place for their United States plant. Support came at the state level and from the Elizabethtown Industrial Foundation and the city of Elizabethtown, he said.
Other bonuses to the location were the low cost of electricity, warmth of southern hospitality, location for product transportation – including a nearby airport – and financial support with incentives from the state, Yadav said.
“We wanted to be a part of the story here,” Yadav said.
From Starbucks coffee, pet foods, gourmet foods and many other products, many homes have items in their cupboards that have packaging with a product from Flex Film.
“It touches everyone,” Yadav said.
Film made in the Elizabethtown plant helps to lock in freshness, aiding the package with barriers, bonds and package integrity and a level of security to keep the product inside from becoming contaminated.
Many companies, he said, are moving toward flexible packaging instead of solid plastics because less plastic is used and it helps the environment. And a trend for smaller bags with a gourmet-food look is moving the industry, he said.
The plant is highly automated with a knowledge-based work force, he said.
The film has a plate that makes 36,000 metric tons a year and the plant has the widest machine possible to create a polyester film measuring 8.7 meters.
A metalized film can be created with aluminum deposits that produce a high barrier to keep food from spoiling. In this process, the aluminum wire is heated in a low pressure chamber at a high temperature. The aluminum vaporizes and then is deposited on the film.
The process of making the massive rolls of film starts at one end of the building and ends at the other.
Polymer chips come in on a rail line, or trucks, and are sucked into the silos. Then, the chips are dried and conditioned to make the rolls. The process, Yadav said, is like a pasta machine. It comes out in a sheet form and goes through a chill roll to rapidly cool it before it sets. Another machine stretches the plastic in two directions and the plastic is run through an oven as it stretches. The film gets stretched, thinned and then cut or metalized.
The roll is so big at the end, moving it is automated.
In the nerve center, employees measure the thickness of the film and other characteristics of the film. Later, the quality control area double checks to make sure the machine is making the product at the company’s standards.
The Elizabethtown location also has invested in a research and development department to work on future products and new ways of making product. There are products they are developing they hope to release in the next couple of years. Yadav describes some as groundbreaking.
Flex Films USA has one of the best safety records in their company, Yadav said, adding there have been no incidents in about two years — more than 660 days without an accident.
“We invest in people and we invest in safety,” he said.
The shift equals out to working about half a year with an entire year’s pay, he said.
He wants residents in the community to enjoy the warmth and camaraderie in the company that has a lot of cultural diversity and growth.
The company’s founders believe in giving back to the community, Yadav said. Recently the company donated $5,000 worth of Chrome computers to local schools, $25,000 for computers at ECTC and have participated in Feeding America.
The company, he said, is in Elizabethtown to stay.
“(Flex Films is) in the right place, right location, right state and right county,” he said. “This a great place to be because it’s an amazing story for UFLEX (the parent company) and we want to be a part of that story”