The owner of a Floyd County business looking to open an aluminum manufacturing facility says he hopes to expand to a new location next year.
Earl Steve Webb, owner of South East Welding and Webb and Sons Enterprises in Langley, said his goal is to open a new fabrication facility in 2020.
On Aug. 21, the Floyd County Fiscal Court approved an agreement with Webb and his companies, giving the county permission to repair a drain on Webb’s property near Allen Central on Ky. 80.
County officials estimate the cost of the work to be around $10,000, and the agreement requires Webb to create at least 25 jobs by Aug. 1, 2022, or his company is required to pay the county back for the cost of the work.
Webb said he has been in business in his current location for 38 years. The companies rebuild mine equipment, he said, and he decided to start an aluminum fabrication plant because of the downturn in the economy.
“We worked in the coal industry and we manufactured and built items for the coal industry throughout many years, and we’re just looking to get into other areas that is outside the coal fields,” he said.
He said the new business will start out manufacturing aluminum trailers.
“There’s a lot involved in that, as far as all the legalities and all of that, you know,” Webb said. “It’s just a big undertaking, but Floyd County does need something to give people some work.”
Webb said he is in the “early stages” of planning this business expansion, and he hopes to open it in the new location in 2020.
“We’re just at the very early stages of looking at everything,” Webb said. “We’ve been planning on doing stuff like this for a while. It’s just, we worked for the coal mines, and then we’d have some go out of business, and then that would jerk us back, you know. Coal business has been tough to grow with. But, anyway, we hope by this fall, maybe to have the drain in, and then try to start looking at buildings. We’re just going to start out small. It’s not going to be nothing huge. We’re trying to not get the cart in front of the horse, so to speak.”
He said South East Welding will be moved to the new location and employees from that business will build and design things that will be used in the new facility. He said they will “work our way slowly into it.”
He mentioned the possibility of obtaining aluminum from Braidy Industries, an aluminum manufacturing facility that’s been announced to be built in Ashland. He said if that project does not come to fruition, he can obtain aluminum elsewhere, but he prefers to work with a plant in Eastern Kentucky.
“We would like to be able to have jobs here at home to where we don’t have to leave home and we can stay home and still have a good job, building and manufacturing whatever needs manufactured in the aluminum industry,” he said.
He said the facility “would be good for both Left Beaver and Right Beaver.”
“And hopefully, we’ll have jobs for the future, no matter what happens to the coal industry,” he said.
“There’s no guarantees in life, but … We’re not going nowhere,” Webb said. “I’m from right here, in Floyd County, right here on Rt. 80 and if my health holds up and everything, we plan on making it work, one way or the other.”
He praised the fiscal court for agreeing to help.
“The fiscal court and those guys, they want to see manufacturing in Floyd County,” Webb said. “Everything’s going all around Floyd County and I’ve got a lot of welding experience. Building and making things, that’s what I’ve done most of my life.”
At the Aug. 21 meeting, Judge-Executive Robbie Williams mentioned the possibility of working with state agencies to seek funding for equipment Webb needs for the new facility.
“I want to thank the fiscal court for thinking about us and trying to help us,” Webb said. “Hopefully, the people of Floyd County will see that’s pretty good of them.”