Braidy Industries, Inc., a new company formed by chairman and CEO Craig T. Bouchard, plans to construct a $1.3 billion greenfield aluminum rolling mill in Greenup County, Kentucky, to produce sheet and plate for the automotive and aerospace industries. The project is being constructed in partnership with the State of Kentucky and the Ashland Alliance. The Braidy rolling mill seeks to become the nation’s low cost producer of high quality aluminum auto body sheet and plate and ultra-high strength alloys for the aerospace industry. The mill will open with a capacity of 370,000 tons per annum, producing 5000, 6000, and 7000 series aluminum sheet and plate products.
“We believe that a large scale greenfield investment in aluminum and other materials will create a substantial competitive advantage,” said Bouchard. “We will do this by optimizing logistics on water, rail and highway, a non-union work force, no environmental legacy, no pension legacy, very low plant maintenance costs, industry leading electric cost infrastructure, state-of-the-art equipment and work process flow, and fewer employees per ton. From our location in Greenup County we can import, and reach the majority of our customers in the United States same-day by water, rail or highway. The cost advantages are stunning.”
Ground breaking at the 370 acre South Shore site will occur in the first quarter of 2018, with plans for completion in 2020. The mill will be 2.5 million sq ft under roof, with an ideal location on the Ohio River, and already-permitted barge capacity. The CSX railroad runs through the property, and highway I-64 connects the mill site to some of the nation’s largest auto-making and aerospace customers. Kentucky Power is partnering with Braidy in the provision of low cost energy.
Bouchard is joined on the Braidy board of directors by Dr. Chris Schuh, head of Materials Science at MIT and one of the worlds most accomplished metallurgists; John Preston, renowned technologist who commercialized intellectual property at MIT for nearly 30 years; Dr. Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School; and Charles Price, a well known industrialist from the Kentucky.
Braidy is also exploring new scientific nano-crystaline technical advances capable of improving molten metal-based manufacturing. This second investment involves a soon-to-be-announced acquisition that will enable the advanced manufacturing of ultra-high strength and light weight parts for the inside of cars and airplanes, as well as for defense purposes.
“The last decade has seen rapid advances in material science similar to advances in the computer/Internet fields in the 1990s,” said Preston. “These advances both in processing equipment and new materials are now ripe for full scale deployment which enables cost effective material substitution – reducing the weight of vehicles and planes, saving vast amounts of energy and reducing dependence on scarce materials.”
Kentucky is considered to be an ideal location for the new plant. Not only does the state export more than $10 billion per year in aerospace products, ranking it second among all states in the U.S., but also because the region is home to an abundance of hard-working skilled workers trained in the metal and mining industries. It is also a perfect logistical location to serve auto and aerospace customers.
“Eastern Kentucky has significant competitive advantages, including its proximity to the leading automotive and aerospace customers, low energy costs and a skilled and available workforce for heavy manufacturing,” Porter said. “The decision to locate in Greenup County will provide an opportunity for Braidy Industries and the community to work together to transform the region’s business environment as well as attract related companies.”
Braidy will partner with the Kentucky Community and Technical College system (KCTCS) to enhance and develop specialized Associates Degrees in Material Sciences and Advanced Manufacturing. This will be used to train its work force on an evergreen basis while developing a pipeline of human talent for its mill and future manufacturing businesses in Greenup County, as well as surrounding counties.
“Braidy Industries’ decision to locate in Eastern Kentucky has the potential to be as significant as any economic deal ever made in the history of Kentucky,” said Gov. Bevin. “I look forward to the success of Braidy Industries as they leverage the incredible work ethic found in Eastern Kentucky. The ripple effect of this investment will be significant and will produce positive change in the region for generations to come.”
Bouchard said: “This is an historic moment. The best time in the past 50 years to invest in American infrastructure and advanced manufacturing is right now.”