Business

Pole position: How this Kentucky company grew from 2 employees into leading highway structure firm

Steel poles to be used for overhead signage.
Steel poles to be used for overhead signage.

Odds are, if you have driven on an interstate or stopped at a stoplight, you’ve seen a product from Structures USA of Elizabethtown.

Located on Peterson Drive, Structures USA is a fabrication company that launched in 2012. VSI Sales is an engineering, design and marketing firm that supports products built by Struc­tures USA. It began in 2005.

The companies have been in Elizabethtown since August 2013, Gen­eral Manger Oscar Hat­chett said.

The companies currently lease the building from the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Indus­trial Foundation with plans to buy the 90,000-­square foot structure. The company started in Eliza­­beth­town with two employees and no equipment, Hatchett said.

“Nothing was in the plant except for three 10-ton cranes and a bunch of dead birds,” Hat­chett said jokingly.

The company now has 50 employees and makes tubular structures including substation products, traffic poles, lighting poles, catenary poles, over-head sign structures, signal strain poles and other fabricated structures. Some poles reach 90 to 100 feet in height.

“We are really excited about being in the community,” he said. “There are great, hardworking people.”

The company recently finished a project on Interstate 65 and one in California. It is completing projects in at least 40 states, Hatchett said.

With constant work to expand roads or fix deteriorating ones, he said there always is a need for new structures for signage and other road-related items.

The company sometimes makes 200 to 300 structures per order.

Angela DiSimone opened VSI to be a buy-and-sell company that worked in coordination with previous companies. Later, she opened Structures USA.

“(It’s) not a glamorous career at all, but interesting,” she said. “It’s just like a shoelace, no one thinks about who makes it.”

The poles Structures USA creates for hanging traffic lights have a distinctive look. They are pointy like Christmas trees, she said.

Hatchett said the company has plans to grow. In the next six months or so, he hopes to expand the building. Outsourced functions also are being considered to be brought in-house, he said. A blast room for sandblasting might be one of those functions.

The first bay in the plant has two 10-ton cranes and the second has one. He’s hoping to add another crane to the second bay.

There are automated machines being put in place and Hatchett is looking at adding a second shift.

“It’s a business we think we can grow,” he said.

The plant also includes a drill press, plasma tables, automated seamer to make more decorative poles and a large press break that sits on a steel-reinforced foundation to accommodate the weight of the machine.

Welders are certified by the American Institute of Steel Con­struc­tion, Hatchett said.

  Comments