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Follett President Discusses the Evolution of Manufacturing in Lehigh Valley

By Colin McEvoy on September 18, 2020

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham interviews Follett President Korey Kohl for the second entry in LVEDC’s executive virtual interview series.

Follett LLC had an expansion and consolidation project planned in Lehigh Valley well before the coronavirus reached the United States, and the manufacturer of refrigeration products isn’t letting the pandemic slow those plans down now.

The company is still moving with its $12 million plans for a 96,000 square-foot addition to its Forks Township manufacturing facility, which will allow the company to grow and consolidate its current Bethlehem Township location into one building.

Follett President Korey Kohl is responsible for 12 total brands as Group President with parent company The Middleby Corporation.

“We anticipate someday soon, things are going to get back to whatever the new normal is going to be,” said Korey Kohl, President of Follett LLC. “… We’re seeing signs of things improving and we’re trying to make sure we’re being proactive to that.”

Kohl was interviewed in the second entry in a weekly series the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is conducting with new corporate leaders at some of Lehigh Valley’s leading companies and largest employers.

“In the last 18 months we’ve seen 15 different executives named at major employers across the Lehigh Valley,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, who conducted the interview.

“In these challenging times where we can’t gather as we usually do, we thought it would be great if you had an opportunity to meet the new leaders who are shaping the future of the Lehigh Valley, that are running the companies that drive forward the economy,” Cunningham said.

The Lehigh Valley Health Network is the presenting sponsor for the series, with Capital Blue Cross as the premier sponsor. Gold sponsors include BB&T, now Truist and Fitzpatrick, Lentz & Bubba. Crayola and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation are event sponsors for the series; Follett LLC is the interview sponsor, Countess Communications is the production sponsor, and ArtsQuest is the venue sponsor.

New videos are released each Thursday at 3 p.m. on LVEDC’s Facebook page. The full video interview with Kohl can be viewed below.

Current and previous archived videos can be found here and on LVEDC’s YouTube channel. The interview subject on Thursday, Sept. 24, will be Korey Kohl, President & CEO of Follett Corp.

Since 1948, Follett has led the industry in designing and manufacturing high quality, innovative ice storage bins, ice storage and transport systems, ice machines, ice and water dispensers, and ice and beverage dispensers for the global food service industry.

Follett is one of 12 brands Kohl is responsible for as Group President at the Middleby Corporation, a global leader in the food service equipment industry, which acquired the Follett four years ago. Kohl is the first President of the company who is not a member of the Follett family.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Steve (Follett) and his father Don for what they accomplished here and what they built,” Kohl said. “It was nice stepping into something that wasn’t broke, something to try to take to the next level. They did a lot of great things to grow this business, and grow it very fast.”

Cunningham said Follett as a company is emblematic of how manufacturing as a whole has evolved in Lehigh Valley, compared to when the sector was dominated by one large company like Bethlehem Steel.

“Manufacturing today (is) coming in smaller chunks,” he said. “It’s companies like Follett that have 200 or 300 people, making specialized products or component parts in products that people are using and the world, and they’re just not aware that it’s being made here.”

Other upcoming interviews in the series will include:

ArtsQuest provided access to indoor space large enough for safe distancing for the interviews. There is no audience for the interviews, which will adhere to public health and social distancing standards.

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