Food, fun, games, prizes, music, and hula hoops — those are not things one would typically expect to find at a manufacturing plant.
But all that and more abounded Saturday at the Gränges (formerly Noranda) manufacturing plant in Huntingdon as plant workers and administrators celebrated the site’s 50th year of operation and job creation in Carroll County.
Gränges CEO Patrick Lawlor made the trip all the way from Sweden to enjoy the day’s celebrations with his 15-year-old son, Jaiden.
Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley presented Lawlor with the town’s Pinnacle of Excellence Award in appreciation for Gränges keeping the Huntingdon plant alive after former owners, Noranda, filed for bankruptcy back in February of 2016.
“This facility has been the glue that has held our economy together here in Huntingdon and Carroll County for many years,” said Kelley, who also praised the Swedish-based company for their planned investment of $110 million for operation expansions and the creation of 85 to 100 new jobs by the third quarter of 2019. “We’re very excited about what the future holds.”
“I’m very honored to be part of this 50-year celebration,” said Lawlor. “But this is really all about the employees we have here and their families. That’s the major reason we decided to invest in this plant last year.”
Huntingdon site manager Mike Eller pointed out how unusual it is for a manufacturing plant keep going for half a century.
“It’s these families and these workers that have kept us going,” said Eller.
“Today is a celebration of the workers here at this plant,” said Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Hurley. “The men and women who work here are a shining example of the labor force we have here in Carroll County.”
Carroll County Mayor Kenny McBride referred to Granges as “an outstanding addition to the community.”
“I’m looking forward to another 50 years,” said McBride.
The Granges plant in Huntingdon currently employs 420 people and manufactures over a million pounds of raw aluminum into various useable forms and products daily.
The plant started under the name R.J. Reynolds in 1968. It was the Archer Aluminum Foil Plant in 1979, when Noranda, Inc. took over operations. It continued to operate under the Noranda name until early last year, when Gränges purchased the Huntingdon facility, as well as facilities in Newport, Arkansas and Salisbury, North Carolina.
During Saturday’s celebrations, employs and their families enjoyed a free meal of barbecue with all the trimmings and dessert.
Attractions featured various game booths, inflatable jumpers and slides for the kids, a cake walk, corn hole competitions, face painting, hula hoop competitions, an onsite deejay who kept the music going, and prize drawings throughout the day, including drawings for Yeti coolers and 50-inch flat-screen TVs.
Members of the Huntingdon Fire Department were also on hand, displaying a huge American flag from the top of the ladder truck.