Who would imagine a $90 yard sale welding machine could evolve into a $4.4 million industrial complex nine years later?
Matt and Laura Castlen used that second-hand welder to launch a small business out of their 30′ x 40′ garage. Today, that much larger business employs 50 union and non-union workers, but that number will soon drastically increase.
Castlen Steel unveiled plans this afternoon for their three-phased revitalization of the former Green River Steel property along US 60 at a ribbon cutting for phase one of the expansion, which revitalized a railway at the 92-acre site. The end goal, owner Matt Castlen says, is to eventually employ as many people and support as many families as Green River Steel once did.
Castlen says he remembers riding a school bus past the property when it had a “for sale” sign on it. “It’s an honor to be able to revitalize this facility and turn it back into something that will employ a lot of people here in Owensboro,” he said at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “Overall, it sets us up for future growth long term. There are very few places in Daviess County that utilize river and rail, so it separates us from some of our competition. But it will also be beneficial to other businesses here in Owensboro – like the Owensboro Riverport and Yellow Banks (River Terminal) – because there is so much opportunity for all of us to work together to help grow business.”
Castlen Steel specializes in fabrication, steel sales, industrial contracting, fertilizer material handling, grain solutions, and storage tanks. Their current location on Iceland Road in Maceo will continue to serve as the company’s offices. The new facility allows the company to add manufacturing operations for conveyors, hoppers, conditioners, towers, and bucket elevators. With the rail spur now in operation, Castlen employees can more easily receive bulk raw materials – including steel and aluminum – and ship completed tanks, catwalks, elevators and other products. The new site’s access to the Ohio River will help the company expand its sales and service territory.
By the time all three phases are implemented over the next two or three years, Castlen projects to hire nearly 30 more employees, with four or five during phase one. “All good business starts with employees. They are the fabric of Castlen Steel and we couldn’t do what we do without them. It’s a blessing to come to work every morning and know we’re making a difference. It’s seeing that families in this community can grow up, be successful, and raise the next generation right here in this community.”
Phase one was revitalizing the rail system which connects to a CSX main line. A new locomotive should be arriving this week to help transport rail cars to and from the property.
Phase two, planned for 2017/18, calls for fabricating an 85,000 sq. ft. building to be used for heavy fabrication, including barge and railcar repair.
Phase three will implement a system to load and unload barges. When all three phases are implemented, materials will be able to arrive by train and loaded onto a barge, or vice versa.
“By the year 2020, there is an expected 40% increase in train freight,” Greater Owensboro Economic Development President & CEO, Madison Silvert reported. “This project takes full advantage of that. We are fortunate to have another rail service here in Owensboro-Daviess County now thanks to Castlen Steel.”
Castlen says opening up the rail allows Castlen Steel to bring in products from anywhere in the country. “And we can go anywhere in the world because of the river.”
Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who approached the mic to a standing ovation, recalled the days when he helped secure $40 million investment in the downtown riverfront development. “I can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing people flooding downtown and watching this great river community begin to be even greater.”
McConnell referred to Matt as a great “business leader” who is doing all he can to change the way Kentucky does business. “We’re all descendants of risk-takers. At some point in your family heritage, somebody had enough gumption to come to America from wherever they were. There were no guarantees. All they knew was that there was an opportunity to realize their dreams. If we ever lose that, this land will not continue to be the land of opportunity. If we don’t protect this land of opportunity we will not be able to hand down to the next generation the kind of America that will allow them the opportunity to realize their dreams. And there is no better example in our great commonwealth of exactly what made America great than Matt Castlen and this company.”
“We believe local job creators are the ones that create jobs that last in the community. When you hear the Chamber talk about talent retention and recruitment, this is why,” said Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Candance Castlen Brake, bringing the ceremony to a close.