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Mayor Tom Watson, center, tries to get everyone to sing along as Chris Joslin, right, and Kristy Westerfield, left, of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum start “My Old Kentucky Home” on Friday at Ken-tron Manufacturing to celebrate National Manufacturing Day. Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer/awarren@messenger-inquirer.com

National Manufacturing Day® with music. That is just what Ken-tron Manufacturing did October 5th, this year’s day to recognize and inspire a new generation of U.S. manufacturing.

Special guests welcomed to the Ken-tron facility for the celebration included Chris Joslin (executive director) and Kristy Westerfield of the soon-to-open Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum as well as Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson and U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, a Bowling Green Republican.

At the celebration, both Joslin and Guthrie shared with the attendees they have been users of guitar stings developed by Ken-tron. Other notable artists who depend on Ken-tron strings in making music include Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Pete Townsend, Kid Rock, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, and Del McCoury — just to name a few.

According to Ken-tron president, Rick Thompson, “We’ve been making music wire for more than 30 years. C.F Martin, D’Addario, Ernie Ball and GHS buy the wire for their guitar strings from us.” He added, “It’s pretty cool. When you see somebody playing guitar, the strings probably came from here.”

As to the volume of production, Thompson noted, “500,000 pounds of music wire leaves this plant each year. We do $11 million to $12 million in business a year. $8 million of that is in wire, and 50 percent of that is music wire.”

Ken-tron wire goes into wide range of other products, spanning a variety of industries. Examples include aerospace products, automotive components, medical devices, appliances, electronics, and more.

The celebration included recognition of the purpose of National Manufacturing Day. Thompson spoke to the impending skills gap in manufacturing, and the up and coming demand for “highly skilled professionals in the manufacturing sector who can design, program and operate technology.”

Thompson also noted that 30 percent of Ken-tron’s workforce has been on the job for more than 20 years. He explained the implications of this current trend in manufacturing,

“The average age of a manufacturing employee is 56, and between now and 2020, there will be an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers who will need to be replaced.”

Ken-tron is proud of our 50 + year history as a U.S. manufacturer and is committed to inspiring a new generation of manufacturing talent.

Please read the Feature Story in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.

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