Breaking Ground in Athens

Southern hospitality is alive and well, just ask Shape CEO Gary Verplank and President Bob Currier.

Both were on-hand for Friday’s dedication ceremony in Athens, Alabama to recognize Shape’s newest manufacturing facility.

Representatives with the City of Athens, Tennessee Valley Authority, Limestone County Commission, Alabama Department of Commerce, Limestone County Economic Development Association and JESCO Construction were also in attendance.

“We’re proud of what’s happening here,” said Athens Mayor, Ronnie Marks, to a crowd of nearly 50 during the dedication ceremony at the Shape construction site.

A common theme among the number of city, county and state officials who spoke was the collaboration that goes into bringing a company like Shape to Alabama. The 100,000-square-foot facility is the latest addition to a booming industrial park that already includes Michigan-based Steelcase and Asahi Kasei Plastics, a Shape supplier.

In honor of the event, several speakers presented Gary with commemorative items including a framed plaque, a silver ground-breaking shovel, and the Great Seal of the State of Alabama.

With construction already underway, a ground-breaking didn’t make sense. However, in a light hearted moment, Gary was given the opportunity to christen a steel beam, that will be used in the construction, with a bottle of champagne.

As for the construction, crews on the 34-acre site have been slowed recently due to a stretch of rainy weather, but they are close to finishing the roof and outside walls. Once completed, work is expected to speed up to meet June’s equipment delivery date and August’s start of production.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” said Gary. “We’re very excited about coming [to Athens] and growing.”