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Local and state officials joined with Wilbert Plastic Services employees Dec. 14 to celebrate a joint venture with the Ford Motor Company.
Wilbert Plastic Services has received Q1 certification, which means it met the quality standards required to become a parts supplier for Ford. Wilbert is slated to begin manufacturing interior plastic parts for the new Ford Escape, one of which was on display during last week’s presentation. The Escape is manufactured in Louisville.
“I get excited when I see this wonderful new vehicle over here that we’re going to get to participate on in the coming months,” said Greg Botner, president and CEO of Wilbert Plastic Services.
He added that the future of the Lebanon plant was in question three years ago, but today things are looking bright. Botner explained that the plant’s Q1 certification was the culmination of two years of commitment by Wilbert employees. That effort is also why the company decided to invest $10 million in the local plant.
“Our confidence lies in the people here in Lebanon,” Botner said.
In addition to local officials, Jerry Abramson was present as his first official action as the newly sworn-in lieutenant governor of Kentucky.
“The applause goes to you all ‘cause you’ve got an outstanding company here who has been working with an outstanding automobile company,” Abramson said.
He added that Wilbert’s employees are the ones who made the difference. They met the standards that made the agreement with Ford possible, and that also means 150 new jobs will be coming to the factory and to Marion County.
“That’s 150 families who are going to have a chance to join with you to provide for themselves and for their kids,” Abramson said.
During a tour of the factory prior to the presentation, Helen Costello of Wilbert Plastic said the plant expected to increase production from six truckloads per day to up to 35 truckloads per day. James Brown, a quality service engineer with Ford, said the Lebanon plant would be providing enough parts to manufacture 6,000 to 7,000 Escapes each week.
“You send good parts up there, people will buy that vehicle,” Brown said, later adding, “We want to make a long-term relationship with you.”
The City of Lebanon received a $1 million community development block grant from the state that was part of an incentive package offered to encourage Wilbert’s expansion. Marion County Economic Development Director Tom Lund credited Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration for changes in the law that made it possible for the state to offer incentives to existing industries.
“This is a very, very proud day for Marion County,” Lund said.
Commissioner Tony Wilder of the Kentucky Department for Local Government said Lebanon received the grant because of the cooperation that’s been exhibited between local officials and businesses in the community.
“You all get it down here,” Wilder said. “You understand that important private-public partnership makes these kinds of projects successful.”