A manufacturer's plans to introduce a new product line is expected to create several new local jobs.
To pioneer a new line of highly durable end-grain hardwood flooring, the Pennsylvania-based AHF Products (formerly Armstrong) plans to invest $2.5 million and create 20 full-time jobs at its Somerset facility in Pulaski County early next year.
"With this expansion, AHF Products demonstrates both Kentucky's excellence in manufacturing and that our manufacturers remain committed to creating jobs in our commonwealth as we work to rebuild our economy," Gov. Andy Beshear stated Monday. "I am grateful the company chose to create these new, high-skilled jobs and further invest in Kentucky, and I look forward to the facility's continued growth in Pulaski County."
AHF Products, with decades of experience in wood flooring design and innovation, developed new technology for a first-of-its-kind category of hardwood flooring. The new product targets consumers who prefer hardwood flooring for its natural beauty, longevity and the value it provides to the home, but are seeking a strong performance product to stand up to pets, children and heavy foot traffic.
AHF leaders opted to manufacture the new line in Somerset versus their facilities elsewhere, in large part because of the commonwealth's highly skilled workforce and the company's strong commitment to U.S. manufacturing and American craftsmanship. In addition to creating 20 jobs at the plant, the new product line also helps secure the facility's viability and its current 145 jobs as the market shifts from the rotary engineered hardwood flooring currently made at the plant.
Work on the expansion already has begun, and the new line is scheduled to begin operating in February.
"We continue to invest in our Somerset plant due to the quality of the products and dedication to future growth that we see from employees," said Brian M. Carson, CEO of AHF Products. "Our customers continue to see value in U.S.-manufactured products, and this new development not only creates new-to-the-world technology but continues our commitment to domestic manufacturing and grows our share of U.S.-manufactured wood products."
Headquartered in Mountville, Pennsylvania, AHF Products employs over 2,250 people across its seven manufacturing locations - six in the U.S. and one in Cambodia. The Somerset location has produced rotary engineered hardwood flooring since opening in 1990.
State Sen. Rick Girdler, of Somerset, said the project bodes well for the region moving forward.
"I am thrilled to hear about AHF Products' expansion here in Somerset. It shows this city is continuing to lay the groundwork for a better future," said Sen. Girdler. "I want to thank AHF Products for their investments in our community and congratulate them on this expansion. I look forward to seeing their continued success, and that of Somerset and Pulaski County."
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said AHF Products' expansion demonstrates the region's emphasis on partnering with its businesses.
"Recruiting new industry to our community is always a significant achievement, but retaining industry is just as, if not more, important in building a community that leads in economic development efforts," Mayor Keck said. "It shows we're communicating and listening to the businesses that have invested in our community, and that we're dedicated to making Somerset and Pulaski County the best place in Kentucky to do business. I am so grateful to AHF for continuing to invest in Somerset and committing to grow with our community."
Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said the company has long served as a valuable part of the community.
"We are excited to see yet another of our manufacturing pillars expanding its operations," Judge-Executive Kelley said. "AHF has been a terrific partner for years, and this shows its dedication to success and its confidence in its employees. This is great news for Pulaski County, and I wish this great company many years of continued prosperity here."
Chris Girdler, Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) president and CEO, thanked all involved in aiding the expansion.
"We appreciate AHF's longtime commitment to our community and we are excited to have worked with them in their decision-making process to expand and create more jobs in Somerset and Pulaski County," Girdler said. "A special thanks to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and in particular Somerset's own, Project Manager Beka Burton, as well as South Kentucky RECC for their assistance."
To encourage the investment in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in September preliminarily approved AHF Products for up to $80,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
In addition, the company can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.
For more information on AHF Products, visit www.ahfproducts.com.