New energy in a rural Kentucky county

Posted | October 9, 2019

McCreary County is rich in natural beauty, but its rural communities have experienced tough economic times in recent years. That’s why the planned opening of a new manufacturing facility in the southeastern Kentucky county is such big news — and Kentucky Utilities is proud to play a vital role.

In August, Fibrotex USA cut the ribbon on a new manufacturing facility in Stearns, Kentucky, where it will operate in conjunction with subcontractor Outdoor Venture Corp. (OVC), creating up to 350 full-time jobs in a place where unemployment far exceeds the national average.

Fibrotex ribbon cutting
Economic Development Project Manager Daryl Smith (right), attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Fibrotex manufacturing facility in Stearns, Kentucky. He is pictured with Adi Blum, president, Fibrotex USA.

Fibrotex specializes in manufacturing modular camouflage systems used to conceal military equipment, facilities and troops. Based in Israel, the company was looking for a strategic partner to establish a new manufacturing operation to produce Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage Net Systems and found that partner in OVC in Stearns. 

OVC was founded in 1972 and was, at one point, the second largest family/recreational tent supplier in the United States. Through tough times, the company reinvented itself and began producing automotive airbags and military products. Today, OVC is an award-winning Department of Defense contractor, employing about 225 people at four facilities in southeastern Kentucky. The company’s products provide safety and comfort to troops around the world.

“This exciting project will create substantial new economic opportunity in southeast Kentucky, while also providing crucial, high-tech products for our nation’s armed forces,” Governor Matt Bevin said at the announcement of the new facility.

The ribbon-cutting marked a major economic development stride for the region, and KU has been key to powering the project. The company’s entry into the Kentucky economy has gone smoothly, in part thanks to the efforts of KU team members like Senior Engineer David Laun, who oversaw installation of Fibrotex’s transformer, and Senior Business Center Specialist David Combs, who made sure the facility received service on time and at the proper rate.

“KU has been fully involved in helping this customer get electric service, but the impact is far greater than simply providing power,” said Daryl Smith, Economic Development project manager for LG&E and KU. “Our service has made it possible for Fibrotex to create hundreds of much-needed jobs that will be filled by KU residential customers. This is a big win for this community and for the state of Kentucky.”

Beth McFarland, vice president-Customer Services, added, “Throughout the LG&E and KU service territories, there are companies producing and delivering goods that make individuals’ lives safer, better and more convenient. We have the honor to serve them and tell their stories to highlight the importance of our individual duties in providing safe and reliable gas and electric to their operations.”