Superior Graphite President and CEO Ed Carney considered the impact of the groundbreaking two years ago for his company’s new specialty carbon plant, and he told those attending the facility's recent opening of the plant that he appreciated the contributions of local officials toward the project.
“If it were not for you heaving shovels that day, we probably would not have made it here today,” quipped Carney of the efforts of Christian County Judge-Executive Steve Tribble and other officials on the day of that initial event.
The groundbreaking took place Oct. 30, 2017, and on Wednesday, a little more than two years later, the company celebrated the fruition of its facility.
Carney, whose father Peter Roy Carney also served as a CEO of the family business, was joined onstage during opening ceremonies for the plant by Jim Makuc of Cabot Corp., a business partner of Superior Graphite, and by Thomas Coyle, who is the site manager for the Hopkinsville facility.
Hopkinsville Mayor Carter Hendricks noted that the new facility is an investment, not only for the company, but for the community and elsewhere.
“We recognize that although this investment exists in Hopkinsville, it impacts the region,” the mayor said. “We’re one big region, one big economy.”
Makuc, general manager of Cabot’s energy materials division, told those attending the opening that he was happy to be on hand for the project’s end.
Cabot began working with Superior Graphite in 2009, developing new and improved products for batteries, and Makuc noted that the relationship between the two companies has grown from one of customer and supplier to partnership.
“Our partnership is stronger today because we worked on this project,” he said.
The effort had its surprises, from bedrock that “was wherever we didn’t want it to be and not where we wanted it,” Makuc said, to steel tariffs, labor shortages and wind storms that impacted the completion of the new specialty carbon plant.
Carney said the construction of the facility took longer and cost more money.
“But we are here today,” he noted, explaining that his company’s new facility is representative of a future that will rely on distributed energy, i.e., the ability to charge a cell phone on the run or establish a fuel source where none exists.
“This is the future and what the plant behind us represents,” said Carney, who spoke Wednesday from inside a tent erected in the shadow of the facility.
Carney noted that the carbon plant will basically be purifying natural graphite and thermally treating carbon, a product that goes into energy materials.
Operations will begin next week, according to Makuc, and he observed that the carbon facility will “come up with a good product that can grow our plant.
“I look forward to both our businesses growing with this capacity,” he added.
Coyle described the new facility as a “plant that’s really going to be taking us into the next century and setting us up for the future,” he said on Wednesday.
The Carney family, he noted, had a vision to go forward, and that vision has brought Superior Graphite to this point with its new plant in the local community, Coyle said.
Established in 1917, Superior Graphite is based in Chicago, Illinois, and has been in Hopkinsville since 1977. Officials said the new plant, in addition to an extension of the existing warehouse, expands the company’s operations at the site off Calvin Drive where it has had a local presence for the past four decades.
The carbon plant is now fully operational and has created 20 new jobs.
Wednesday's celebrations also included the presentation of a plaque to Carney bearing the image of his father. The new facility, the plaque states, is dedicated to the late Peter Carney in gratitude of his commitment, leadership and dedication to Superior Graphite.
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or email@example.com.