A Canadian company purchased the first building built in the industrial park in Pikeville. They plan to build tanks that are assembled on the bodies of trucks that transport fuel, water and other liquids.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because the building was originally build for another company, Silverliner, a startup company that wanted to build tanks but didn’t survive. A startup business is hard to do. Throw in a pandemic and you have a recipe for disaster, which is what happened to Silverliner.
Silverliner had no other choice than to close and file for bankruptcy, which was a travesty. It was local startup company owned by local people that had the support of the city, local banks and the community for their success. They offered a ray of hope to the region.
When the bankruptcy article of Silverliner hit this newspaper in 2020, people in the tank building industry passed that article around, which eventually wound up in the hands of the owner of a company that builds tanks in Canada and has a large share of the tank market in the US.
The Canadian company is one of the largest tank builders in North America so naturally, they had an interest in the building and the local operation. The owner called me and scheduled an appointment to visit this area. His intention was to buy that building and build tanks in Pikeville. But he wanted to see the facility and talk to local authorities before he made any commitments. He was here for three days and made the commitment that he wanted to be in Pikeville.
That industrial park has had a lot of negative vibes connected to it. Originally, Alltech was going to put a sustainable fish and chicken farm on the mountain. That was while they built the distillery downtown. When the owner died so did the dreams of the chicken and the fish. Now the distillery is barely brewing and they canceled their plan to have a restaurant and become a tourist destination.
Two other startup companies looked at the park in hopes to locate on the mountain. They both had good intentions and had a decent plan to not only make things, but to employ a lot of people. Enerblu and AppHarvest approached the city with grand ideas, which at the time neither had the proper funding readily available.
Both companies needed a large facility, about 1 million square feet under one roof. Since that park is on an old strip job and the earth is still settling, a 1 million square foot facility is out of the question. Enerblu went belly-up and AppHarvest settled in Morehead. AppHarvest went public last year.
In comes a proposal for yet another startup company, Silverliner, owned by a local person who had every intention to be successful. The city took a leap of faith and did all they could to assist in the startup company. It was just the wrong time to start a business.
The Canadian company has been building tanks for many years and has a backlog of orders in the U.S. A reasonable person would assume that since they are an existing and successful company, moving to Pikeville should be a smooth transition. The bankruptcy of Silverliner was tied up in the courts and everyone involved with allowing the new company to take over was overly cautious in their business dealing, creating more hurdles than needed.
The owner of the Canadian company visited and I showed him around the region. He was so impressed that he made the decision to go after that building and use local resources and talent to locate his newest venture in Pikeville.
Since that time the new owners teamed up with Big Sandy Community and Technical College and started a welding program, they made arrangements with local banks to set up accounts for their business, they are starting the recruitment process and have plans to start fabricating tank bodies by next summer.
A lot of people were skeptical at first for good reason. Banks and the City of Pikeville were skeptics as well. All that is understandable. This region has been burned before and every party needed to be overly cautious of an outsider coming to save the industrial park.
The due diligence has been done, the building is now in the possession of the Canadian company, Platinum Tank Group, and they will call this division Appalachian Tank, Inc. You won’t find Appalachian Tank through a Google search yet because the company was just formed. And while the bankruptcy hearing progressed everything had to be hush-hush.
While we remain cautiously optimistic, it’s time that we support the efforts of any and all entities that wishes to relocate to this region. When that first tank rolls off the assembly line in the summer of ‘22, people will feel more comfortable about this venture. This may be the silver lining we need to help revitalize our regional economy.
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