people on a tour looking in a cooker

Wilderness Trail Distillery receives state manufacturing award

November 1, 2016

wt-kamThe Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM) announced that Wilderness Trail Distillery and Ferm Solutions won its Manufacturer of the Year Award in the small business category.

“It is a great honor to receive the prestigious Manufacturer of the Year Award from the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and to be recognized alongside other great companies. It is a major milestone for our small family-owned company and we believe it demonstrates the pride and abilities within our team and support from our community,” says Shane Baker, who is co-owner with Pat Heist.

Baker and Heist received the award at the KAM’s 16th annual Manufacturer & Employee of the Year Awards luncheon Oct. 28 at the Seelbach Hilton in Louisville.

The winners in the other categories were LINAK U.S. for mid-size business and Domtar Hawesville Mill for large business. Each was selected based on the following criteria:

  • Innovative and entrepreneurial leadership with regard to products, production method, or services;
  • Recognized leadership in making a key contribution to the quality of life in the Commonwealth and the community; and
  • Active involvement in organizations that advance industry and manufacturing.

Tami Hatfield of Ford Motor Co., was selected as the 2016 Employee of the Year. Nominees were judged on four criteria of innovation, teamwork, community service and leadership.

Ferm Solutions is a Danville-based research, product development, engineering and technical service provider to the ethanol and distilled spirits industries; and Wilderness Trail Distillery is a premium craft distillery that produces high quality spirits, such as bourbon, rye whiskey, vodka and a unique rum from Kentucky sorghum molasses. Both, led by co-owners Shane Baker and Pat Heist, have been a significant influence in their community of Danville.

  • Ferm Solutions has consistently been recognized as an innovator in the fermentation and in-depth distilling industry as well as introducing environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient processes into their facility. In addition to running Ferm Solutions and Wilderness Trail Distillery Baker and Heist teach beer, wine, and distilled spirits curricula at several area colleges. They also collaborate on many STEM initiatives in Boyle and surrounding counties, giving students and teachers hands-on laboratory experiences.
  • Wilderness Trail Distillery, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday for tours and tastings, has become a major tourist attraction in Danville and has a reputation for innovation and quality, producing the world’s only award-winning sorghum-based rum made from Kentucky Sorghum molasses. Additionally, Wilderness Trail Distillery is a leader in environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes — utilizing the first clean-steam boiler, implementing closed-loop processes to become a zero-discharge facility, and by using existing processes to provide cooling to their entire facility without additional energy usage.
  • Ferm Solutions and Wilderness Trail Distillery’s continued leadership in innovation, commitment to their community, and responsibility for corporate advocacy makes them the perfect selection for the 2016 Manufacturer of the Year Award in the small business category.

“This is our sixteenth year of celebrating the best of the best in manufacturing in Kentucky,” stated KAM President & CEO Greg Higdon. “As has become the norm, we received many worthy nominations this year, making our selection committee’s job a difficult one, but well worth the effort. We thank the committee for their diligent work and congratulate all of our many nominees, and our 2016 winners.”

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