Leadership Kentucky 2018 in Bowling Green

Posted on: September 19, 2018
Tags: Session Review, Leadership Kentucky

Leadership Kentucky Class of 2018 in Bowling Green

September 12-14, 2018

By: Christopher T. Carney, LKY Class of 2018 Member

Director of MBA Recruitment, Gatton College of Business and Economics - University of Kentucky


This month the 2018 Leadership Kentucky Class was in Bowling Green, the third largest city in the state of Kentucky to further understand the impact of manufacturing to the local and state economy, and beyond.

We first got to hear a collective introductory from Kevin Mays, CFO of Owl’s Head Alloy (Leadership Kentucky alum, Class of 2005), Ken Perdue, Plant Manager at Logan Aluminum (Leadership Kentucky alum, Class of 2011), Chris Smith, President of Constellium and Ron Bunch, President and CEO of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce. They all provided a unique perspective on some of the successes and areas of opportunity for Bowling Green’s manufacturing sector and ways to continue to attract the best talent to this part of western Kentucky.

During the first night’s reception at the Club at Olde Stone, we had the pleasure of hearing from Spencer Coates, President of Houchens Industries, Inc., which is listed by Forbes as one of the largest 100% employee-owned companies in the world! Their popular Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) program provides employees with a very generous retirement plan through the company. Headquartered in Bowling Green, the company operates more than 400 retail groceries, convenience and neighborhood market stores across 16 states with 18,0000 employees.  

The following day, we spent the morning and early afternoon at Fort Campbell with COL Joseph P. Kuchan, Garrison Commander and soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Fort Campbell is a 106,700-acre US Army installation shared by the state of Kentucky and Tennessee and is proud to be the home of the only air assault division in the world. When we first arrived, it was inspiring to notice the hundreds and hundreds of physical boots on the ground to memorialize their fallen soldiers and their sacrifice to their country. Throughout the day, we got to see a glimpse into a typical day with some of the soldiers and all that they do to accomplish their overall mission which is to deploy mission-ready contingency forces by air, rail, highway and inland waterway. The thousands of men and women (along with their families) are truly a community that serves proudly. Our group is very grateful to Fort Campbell’s hospitality and willingness to help us further understand their daily and in some cases, lifetime sacrifice, to our country.

That evening, we received a guided tour of Owl’s Head Alloys which is a secondary aluminum recycling facility located on a 35-acre site with direct rail access serviced by RJ Corman Railroad. We were very impressed with their level of commitment to processing scrap metal/aluminum with a capacity approaching 250 million pounds annually. After this informational tour, we could clearly see that Aluminum (the third most abundant element on the periodic table) is fast becoming number one when it comes to fueling southcentral Kentucky’s economy.  

On our final day in Bowling Green, we visited the Center for Research and Development (CRD) at Western Kentucky University which is a 275,000 square foot facility that provides start-up and existing businesses with the resources needed to succeed. The CRD is home to Western Kentucky University’s Applied Research Centers, Small Business Accelerator and the Kentucky Innovation Network (Central Regional Office). We got to hear some great success stories from entrepreneurs and small-business owners that benefited greatly from the CRD. It was clear that CRD’s resources helped them build meaningful partnerships and were able to expand career opportunities to many Kentuckians or individuals that previously relocated here from outside of the state or country.

Our final day concluded with a visit to the National Corvette Museum, which is home to the Chevrolet Corvette, an American sports car that has been in production since 1953. The museum is located only a quarter mile from the Bowling Green Assembly Plan, where Corvettes have been made since 1981. Most Kentuckians, and many around the world took notice of the big sinkhole incident in 2014 which caught national and international attention when a portion of the museum floor literally collapsed. What could have been a destructive force to this historic museum turned into a blessing as many embraced this situation with membership, attendance and viewership through social media all skyrocketing ever since.

Thank you, Bowling Green, for opening your doors and community to us!


Norton Healthcare
Pikeville Medical Center
Kentucky Power
US Bank
RunSwitch PR
Stites & Harbison, PLLC
Republic Bank
Whitaker Bank
Putting Kentuckians First and Reentry with the Kentucky Office Of Adult Education and the Education and Labor Cabinet
CHI St Joseph Healthcare
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
University of Louisville
Delta Dental
Kentucky Association of Health Plans
Whitaker Bank Foundation
St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Tennessee Valley Authority
Appalachian Regional Healthcare