Cincinnati-based manufacturer celebrates one year of operation in Kentucky
After more than a year in their new Somerset-Pulaski County location, Hollaender Manufacturing executives are proud of the progress they’ve made through expansion — and excited about what the future holds.
The Cincinnati handrail company announced in October 2019 it would open a manufacturing operation in a 12,000-square-foot warehouse on University Drive in Somerset, its first expansion outside the Cincinnati market. Local officials toured the facility earlier this month.
“I was incredibly impressed with the speed at which Hollaender has launched its operation here in Somerset and Pulaski County, as well as the types of systems they are manufacturing,” said Chris Girdler, president and CEO of the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA). “It is an honor for us to be the community this family-owned business selected for its first out-of-state expansion. And it’s a testament to all the work we are doing at SPEDA to enhance workforce development and engage in quality-of-life initiatives that lead the way for business expansion and attraction.”
Indeed, those are the efforts that caught Hollaender’s attention — after an extensive search that included several states, it was Somerset-Pulaski County’s skilled labor force that attracted the manufacturer to locate here, said Marc Cetrulo, president and chief operating officer.
“For a number of years, Hollaender had been struggling to find qualified and reliable employees to work in our manufacturing facility,” Cetrulo said. “This was in spite of the fact that we provide one of the best benefits packages anywhere. We found ourselves in a position where our ability to grow was being severely hampered by an inability to finish and ship our structural fittings.”
With this in mind, Cetrulo said, executives began not only looking for solutions outside of their city but also outside of their state.
“We spent several months touring countless facilities, in numerous communities, throughout multiple states. This process eventually led us to Pulaski County and specifically Somerset, Kentucky,” Cetrulo said. “From our initial contact, SPEDA and their support network were incredibly helpful. They not only located a facility that met our needs exactly, but rolled out a detailed plan for helping us locate and hire the qualified workforce we needed.”
In operation since 1946, Hollaender’s pipe fittings and handrail systems can be found around the world, from rocket launch pads at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral to offshore oil rigs, from U.S. Army Corps locks and dams to amusement parks like Kings Island and Six Flags Disney World — even at Hollywood movie studios. Hollaender components are used in the design and build of handrail, guardrail and safety rail systems as well as a variety of unique modular pipe and fitting-based structures for commercial, residential, public works and industrial applications.
Specifically, Hollaender manufactures its line of Speed-Rail® mechanical fittings at its Somerset warehouse. The company’s initial $667,000 investment in Somerset-Pulaski County was expected to create up to 16 full-time jobs and cover the cost of equipment needed to meet production requirements. But after the success of their first year, Hollaender executives are considering another expansion of jobs and equipment in the near future.
“We have been incredibly pleased with the work ethic of our associates in Somerset, not to mention the tremendous support of the community leadership,” Cetrulo said. “Since the performance of this operation has well exceeded our expectations, we will be moving additional equipment into the facility over the next two months and have already put plans in place to hire and train additional employees.”
As he toured the facility, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said he couldn’t help but think about the significance of what was happening in the warehouse around him. The parts being made at Hollaender’s facility are having a global impact, he said, and that is exciting.
“In Somerset, we are not only striving to be a leader in teaching the jobs of tomorrow but also offering them here in our community,” Keck said. “The parts being manufactured at Hollaender’s Somerset location are helping fuel the aerospace industry, the entertainment industry, the retail industry — global sectors that are so important to a thriving economy. It was really neat to think about our city’s role in making that happen. I am grateful to Hollaender for choosing Somerset to be a part of their story.”
Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said he finds it a little ironic, and satisfying, to think that for the last two generations, the area’s finest employees headed north to Ohio to find work. Now companies are coming here to find a stronger workforce.
“I am proud to see Hollaender succeeding here in Pulaski County,” Kelley said. “We have a great work ethic among our people, and we hear that from our industrial leaders regularly. We want to see Hollaender and all of our companies prosper, and send the message to the world that Somerset and Pulaski County is a great place to do business.”
Girdler said he expects great things from Hollaender in the years ahead.
“SPEDA stands ready to help Hollaender in any way to grow and thrive in Somerset-Pulaski County,” Girdler said. “I don’t think we’ve come close to scratching the surface of Hollaender’s potential accomplishments here. Theirs is truly a success story and one of which we are so proud to play a part.”