Business Q&A: Ray Leathers named top manufacturing employee in state

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By The Staff

 The Sentinel-News: We hear this award was a big surprise. How did that work out?


LEATHERS: I was told that Roll Forming had been nominated for Manufacturing Company of the Year. It was a complete surprise when I was awarded "Manufacturing Employee of the Year." The folks at the Industrial Development Foundation who submitted the nomination as well as my staff did an excellent job concealing the real purpose of our attendance to the awards luncheon last Friday.


S-N: Wayne Allen of Shelbyville won this award last year? Are our factories just

the best-managed in the state or is there something in the water?

LEATHERS: Shelby County is an extremely beneficial location for manufacturers. We are at the "demographic center" of the U.S. for everything east of the Rocky Mountains. We are strategically located between Louisville and Lexington, which offer tremendous support resources. We have an agricultural-based work force that possesses a strong work ethic. Industry gets strong support form our local government and agencies (Industrial Development Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, etc.).


S-N: How do you see your role at Roll Forming? What's your primary purpose and

how do you spend your time?

LEATHERS: My job is three parts: (1) ensure the resources are provided that the Roll Forming manufacturing teams need to produce a quality, low cost product on time to our world class customers, (2) provide the strategic direction for our team to grow our company, and (3) make sure everybody enjoys their job (we work to live-not live to work!).


S-N: How do you see the manufacturing sector changing in the next few years?

LEATHERS: We must continually become pursue two things: (1) technology and innovation that keep us at the fore front of manufacturing process and (2) pursue Continuous Improvement to insure we remain cost competitive in global markets.


S-N: A lot of people know the Roll Forming name but not necessarily what you do.

How would you describe RFC?

LEATHERS: We produce metal structural components utilizing the roll forming process for virtually every market in the US (i.e., toy train track, telescoping bleacher systems, office panel systems, roll-over bars for tractors and forklifts, parts airplanes, helicopters and even the space shuttle).


S-N: Roll Forming has been part of Shelby County for decades – one of our oldest

manufacturers – why has that marriage been so successful?

LEATHERS: Simple, a work force with a strong work ethic and a VERY supportive community. Roll Forming is 63 years old – oldest manufacturer in Shelby County.


S-N: What do you see as the next phase of Roll Forming both internationally and

in Shelby County?

LEATHERS: Volume for our company has nearly tripled since 2003. We expect to continue on this pace of growth. We are continually evaluating the opportunity for growth in our community, as well as expansion through acquisition in North America.


S-N: If you aren't at work, how do you spend your time?

LEATHERS: I own a farm in Bagdad where I "farm for wildlife." I'm a huge UK fan and attend most basketball/football games. I also enjoy fishing in the many great venues offered throughout Kentucky.