Thanks to the efforts of the local community and the commitment of its owners, the Kelley Beekeeping Company will continue to produce beekeeping products in the City of Clarkson, its home of 64 years.
Numerous community members attended the grand opening ceremony of the Kelley Beekeeping Company’s brand new facility on Friday, Sept. 23, which celebrated the legacy of the company, as well as the vision for its future.
Purchased by the Frandsen Corporation, located out of Minnesota, in 2014, the Kelley Beekeeping Company’s new 82,000-square-foot facility is the culmination of years of hard work and, at times, uncertainty that the company would even stay in Grayson County, let alone Clarkson.
Frandsen Company CEO and Chairman Dennis Frandsen said his company first became involved with Kelley Beekeeping to address its customers’ need for beekeeping products.
According to Frandsen, he met with the previous owners of Kelley Beekeeping and told them they would need to increase their output of products to address his customers’ needs.
Frandsen said the owners at the time told him they did not have the resources to meet those needs, so he asked if they would be interested in selling Kelley Beekeeping to the Frandsen Corporation.
An hour later, Frandsen said, an offer was on the table.
Frandsen said that while his company can build manufacturing facilities anywhere, there is only one place it could have the competency and skill needed to run Kelley Beekeeping Company, and that is Clarkson where the employees are.
This led to the Frandsen Corporation’s decision to construct a new Kelley Beekeeping facility, which, at 82,000 square feet, is currently larger than is needed, but will allow the company to grow, Frandsen said.
“We’re going to double this company in five years,” said Frandsen, adding that a plan is already in place to expand the facility further, if needed.
Kelley Beekeeping Company General Manager Sam Ruckriegel said the new facility, constructed over the past year, consolidates four buildings into one.
“It improves our operational efficiency immensely,” Ruckriegel said.
Frandsen Corporation COO Dan Ferrise said his company is striving to “keep [the late] Walter T. Kelley’s vision alive.”
As a constant reminder of the aforementioned vision, Frandsen announced that the new Kelley Beekeeping facility has been dedicated to Walter T. Kelley with a permanent bronze plaque.
In this vein, Frandsen Corporation and Kelley Beekeeping Company are also working to address the diminishing bee population, according to Ferrise.
Clarkson Mayor Bonnie Henderson said she is grateful for God and all involved with the decision for the Kelley Beekeeping Company to stay and expand in Clarkson, including the Frandsen Corporation, Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center CEO Wayne Meriwether and the Hospital Board for providing the land for the expansion, and all of the elected officials, local, state, and federal, who assisted with the project.
One such official, State Representative Tim Moore, said of the new Kelley Beekeeping facility, “What a tremendous asset it is and what…it will continue to be.”
Moore said the impact of beekeeping and the products provided by Kelley Beekeeping are “critical” to the nation’s agriculture, and he commended the workers—“the secret of success”—for their dedication to the company and their community.
Also during the grand opening ceremony, Megan McKay, director of the Office of Business for the Kentucky Secretary of State, nominated Dennis and Greg Frandsen, Ferrise, and Ruckriegel as Ambassadors of the State for their work on the Kelley Beekeeping Company expansion.
The celebration concluded with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for and tours of the new facility.
Walter T. Kelley founded the Kelley Beekeeping Company in Paducah, KY in 1924 before moving the company to Clarkson in 1952.
Ferrise said the plan for the existing Kelley Beekeeping site is to convert the office space into the Walter T. Kelley Training Facility to train future generations of beekeepers.
Kelley Beekeeping Company is located at 807 West Main St. in Clarkson.
Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.