The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers honored Hebron-based Skilcraft as its Small Manufacturer of the Year at the organization’s 2023 Awards Dinner on Nov. 2 in Bowling Green.
Skilcraft has been an integral component of the Northern Kentucky business community since its founding in Burlington in 1965, and the company continues to innovate and utilize new techniques and materials.
Skilcraft provides complex sheet metal fabrication solutions to a variety of industries, and Organizational Development Director Dean McKay said the company values working with customers that are looking for a partner. The company’s largest customers are world-changing leaders in the aviation and private space industry.
“Manufacturing is the top driver of Kentucky’s economy, representing more than $34 billion of Gross Domestic Product,” said KAM President and CEO Frank Jemley. “The companies and individuals recognized tonight play vital roles in creating and sustaining well-paying jobs that support families and communities in our state while producing world class products for the global economy.”
The criteria considerations for the Manufacturer of the Year Award include “advocacy in promoting the advancement of manufacturing and industry in Kentucky, corporate citizenship providing leadership in making a key contribution to the quality of life in the Commonwealth, and innovation and entrepreneurial leadership in regards to products, production methods, or services.
Skilcraft prides itself on employees’ high standards, and floor operators at the company are trained to find their own mistakes during product manufacturing.
“I’m so proud of the hard work and dedication our employees bring to the job every day,” said Skilcraft General Manager John Zurborg. “Skilcraft is proud to be one of many contributors to the region’s thriving advanced manufacturing ecosystem, which is a vital industry for Northern Kentucky’s economic prosperity.”
Skilcraft and its employees are also involved with the community in many ways. McKay is the chair of the Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and was recognized for his service with a community award from the Northern Kentucky Area Development District.
To grow the region’s workforce, the company helps young people become familiar with the manufacturing industry. They work with students from the Boone County Area Technology Center (ATC), Ignite Institute, University of Cincinnati, and other local schools. Eight Skilcraft employees, five of whom have been with the company for 10 or more years, were previously ATC interns with the company.
McKay said there are great careers in manufacturing that don’t require a four-year degree. His team loves working with young people and he said there are good pathways for growth at Skilcraft.
The company continues to add to its team, announcing an expansion in 2022. They are investing $8.4 million into their Hebron facility, creating 14 new jobs at an average wage of $32/hour.
“Skilcraft is one of our local, family-owned manufacturing companies that has successfully grown and transformed into a major competitor,” said Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore. “It is exciting they are taking the initiative to build up the workforce pipeline. Boone County’s young adults will be better prepared to take on manufacturing jobs as the industry continues to grow in Northern Kentucky.”