Lectrodryer

Ted Warren, Lectrodryer’s chief operating officer, explains how the firm’s industrial dryers are tested prior to shipment as he conducted guests on a tour of the manufacturing plant during a celebration Monday of its expansion.

In 2001, when John McPhearson and Ted Warren purchased Lectrodryer from the parent company that planned to close it, they did not want its building off Duncannon Lane.

“We didn’t think we’d need it,” Warren said Monday as he welcomed guests to the celebration.

The two partners initially hired only 14 employees for the venture.

Today, 10 years and two expansions later, the firm that makes industrial dryers has 67 employees. Last year, it exported 71 percent of its production and expects to approach 80 percent in exports this year, McPhearson said.

Former governor Martha Layne Collins, who vastly expanded Kentucky’s ties to international markets while in office and later headed the Kentucky World Trade Center, was on hand Monday to offer praise for Lectrodryer’s success in the global marketplace.

She called it a “Kentucky company from start to finish” that is an example for every business in the state.

What happened on the other side of the world, a revolution in Egypt for example, once mattered little to Kentuckians, she said. Every corner of the global economy, including Kentucky, is affected today by such changes.

A popular uprising in Tunisia, to which Lectrodryer exports products, set the stage for revolutions in Egypt and then Libya.

Lectrodryer has grown constantly since 2001, said McPhearson, setting records every year, including the years after 2007 when the U.S. and global economies slid into recession.

Lectrodryer last expanded in 2005.

The latest plant expansion adds 6,400 square feet of production space and 5,000 square feet of office space at a cost of $1 million.

The work was done by WGT Construction of Richmond with financing through BB&T Bank of Lexington, according to information provided by Lectrodryer.

The office area includes a four-cornered work area in which teams assigned to different areas of the globe are stations.

In each corner sit a team with members representing Lectrodryer’s design, engineering and marketing operations. A production representative is wired into the work space to speak directly with other team members and customers anywhere in the world, said Blanca Ramirez, the firm’s chief marketing officer.

The ability to have team members from all four areas on the phone or video conference with a customer to give quick answers is a necessity in today’s competitive climate, she said.

At a recent World Trade Day conference organized by the Kentucky WTC, an economist told attendees that despite the global recession, the areas are enjoying growth, China, India, the Middle East/North Africa, the former Soviet Union and Latin America, Ramirez said.

Lectrodryer exports to all of them.

“That explains why we are still here and why we are growing, Ramirez said.

As guests were given tours of the Lectrodryer plant Monday, signs disclosed the destination of recently finished equipment. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and South Korea, they read.

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