Photo by Sue Watson
From left are John Media, Trent Ogilvie, Jens Birgersson, George Zinn III and Gov. Phil Bryant.
Photos by Sue Watson
From left are Justin Hall, Ralph Shaw, Eddie Dixon, Rodney Whaley, Gov. Phil Bryant, Charles Terry, Larry Hall, John Media, George Zinn III, Jens Birgersson and Al Beck.
Gov. Phil Bryant speaks with Jens Birgersson, CEO of ROCKWOOL Group.
Rockfon celebrates grand opening
Rockfon, the second manufacturing facility in the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park, held its grand opening and ribbon-cutting last week.
The 130,000-square-foot ceiling tile manufacturing facility is located adjacent to its sister plant ROXUL, which makes insulation.
The companies are the first of their kind in the United States and are subsidiaries of ROCKWOOL, a Danish company that originated the manufacture of insulation from porous rock.
John Media, president of Rockfon of North America, praised the team that brought the facility online and on budget. He said more than 100 teams in Europe and Mississippi helped open the first ceiling tile facility in the Americas without a hitch.
Rockfon is the first of its kind in the United States and ROXUL, also a first, introduced stonewool manufacturing in Marshall County four years ago.
Media said the durable, light-weight, water- and mold-resistant, acoustical tiles made for commercial and residential uses, helps people live more comfortably, productively and safely.
The insulation and ceiling tiles and suspension grid are made for expanding markets in the United States.
The company also is conscious of how it should conserve energy and reduce its footprint by cutting out the cost of shipping its products from Europe.
Jens Birgersson, chief executive officer of ROCKWOOL Group in Denmark, praised the team, the state and the Marshall County Board of Supervisors for keeping the project on track. Groundbreaking was held 19 months ago.
“Time passes quickly,” he said. “When we build a factory, we stay with it a very, very long time. One reason we came here was support from the local government and the governor (Phil Bryant).”
Birgersson said ROCKWOOL is growing rapidly in the North American market.
“We are very committed to stay,” he said. “We have zero debt in the company.”
The company is so excited about the Marshall County and Mississippi connection, Birgersson said, with Rockfon now in operation. There could be a next and a next, he added.
Most of the product is produced locally with less than 10 percent coming from elsewhere, he said.
“It is important for us to get the product to fit the local market and produce it with local people,” Birgersson said.
Coincidental to this opening, this is the 80th anniversary of ROCKWOOL.
George Zinn III, president of the Marshall County Board of Supervisors, recalled the ribbon-cutting of ROXUL in September 2014, the first manufacturing company in Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park. Rockfon is the second.
Reflecting on how God told Noah to build an ark, Zinn said, “Nobody was expecting any rain.”
He praised the work of Del Stover, who served on the IDA board of directors and as interim executive director, for helping lay the groundwork.
“There were many others working in the shadows,” he added. “Yes, the board of supervisors may be driving the bus, but you guys (IDA) are the engine of that bus.”
He thanked ROXUL for an outstanding relationship with the board and “for bringing us a great product and economic development and growth.”
Governor Bryant said more than 200 Mississippians have good jobs because of Rockfon.
“I can’t see how they make insulation out of rock,” he said. “We like to say it’s made in America and perfected in Mississippi.”
He praised the Legislators for providing incentives for companies to come to Mississippi and the Mississippi Development Authority and Tennessee Valley Authority for their roles in promoting economic development. And he praised the many unpaid local volunteers who help bring new industries to the area.
Mississippi has pulled out of the unemployment slump of 2011 – 9 percent unemployment then and now at times it is under 5 percent. The governor also gave credit to the state’s junior colleges for their role in creating a workforce for new growth.
“My first job is to see that every Mississippian has a job if they want one,” he said, “and even if they don’t want one.”
“Here we are, ready to go on to the future. Thank you for having faith in the Mississippi workforce. It takes courage and determination to come all around the world.
“Your company is just as strong as a rock. Our relationship with Rockfon is as strong as a rock.”