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David E. Malloy/For the Herald-Dispatch Carol Jackson, chairman and chief executive officer at HarbisonWalker International, spoke to more than 200 people Tuesday afternoon at the company's new $30 million plant in South Point.

SOUTH POINT, Ohio - The new $30 million HarbisonWalker International manufacturing plant in South Point, Ohio, is a real game-changer, according to Carol Jackson, the company's chairwoman and chief executive officer.

Speaking before more than 200 people Tuesday afternoon during ribbon-cutting ceremonies to celebrate the 120,000-square-foot plant, Jackson said it is "the most advanced refractory facility in North America and likely in the world."

"It reinvents how we're producing and delivering quality monolithic products. It represents the future of our company and, in many ways, the future of U.S. refractories manufacturing," Jackson said.

Refractories are materials that provide linings for high-temperature furnaces and other processing units.

It is the Pittsburgh company's first new plant in 40 years, Jackson said. The new plant also is designed to grow and expand, said Douglas Hall, company senior vice president.

Monolithic refractories have a myriad industrial applications throughout the steel, cement, non-ferrous metallurgical, waste disposal and petrochemical industries.

HarbisonWalker has been involved in refractory products and services in the American market for 150 years. It has about 2,000 employees around the globe, Jackson said.

"This plant is a very big deal," said Gildas Dupouy, senior director of monolithic operations at HarbisonWalker.

The company is able to get raw materials nearby, which helps production, he said.

The first products were shipped from the plant in mid-April, Dupouy said.

"We are succeeding thanks to our people," Dupouy said.

"Thank you for coming to South Point," said Lawrence County Commissioner Bill Pratt.

The plant represents "a great opportunity for anyone to work here," said Carrie Sias, of Chesapeake, Ohio, administrative services manager at the plant.

James Suttles, of Russell, Kentucky, said he's worked at the plant since January.

"I worked at the Toyota plant in West Virginia," he said. "I wanted to be closer to home."

Travis Bowling, of Ashland, has worked at the plant 67 days. Before being hired, he was unemployed for eight months.

"I love it here, honestly. I have good people to work with," he said.

Jackson said the company, with the help of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp., was able to build the plant in a year on time and under budget.

She also presented checks to the South Point High School band and Scout Troop 106 for their participation in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Jackson also presented South Point Christian Church with a deed for a parcel the church has used as a parking lot in recent years.


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