ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) – Craig Bouchard, the founder of Braidy Industries, said in a social media post that he has not stepped down as CEO despite an announcement from the company Thursday that said he was giving up the role.
Braidy Industries is building a $1.7 billion aluminum rolling mill near Ashland. Thursday’s announcement came on the heels of last week’s news that 1,000 jobs were being lost in the area with the closure of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.
Bouchard wrote in a Facebook post Friday morning that he is still the CEO and chairman of Braidy, which is named after his youngest daughter.
“I have just stepped off an international flight. I did not authorize the press release that was released yesterday,” he wrote.
“I have not stepped down as the CEO of Braidy Industries, and I am the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Braidy Atlas.”
The company said on Thursday that Tom Modrowski, who was already on the management team and has 30 years of experience in the metals industry, was named Braidy’s interim CEO while Kentucky native Charles Price succeeds Bouchard as chairman of the board.
The press release said that Bouchard would remain a member of the board.
Bouchard disputed that information said on Friday that he will give more details, possibly by Monday after he returns home to Naples, Florida.
“After I complete my next flight, have a chance to kiss my wife and hug my kids, I will begin to prepare a longer statement for you and for the press. Maybe for Monday consumption,” he wrote on Facebook. “My sole focus is rebuilding Ashland and NEK (Northeastern Kentucky). I’m sorry for the stress that was created in Ashland yesterday. You don’t need that. Craig.”
Thursday’s announcement, along with Friday’s rebuttal from Bouchard, was a surprise to Kentucky lawmakers who expressed some concern about the project’s future.
Senate leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, told reporters he learned Thursday about Bouchard's decision and was told “he was asked and amicably stepped down.”
The lawmaker expressed worry about Braidy's future given the circumstances.
“Until it gets built, you always have to have concerns,” Stivers said. “This is one of the first things Gov. (Matt) Bevin asked us to do that has not come to fruition. We placed our trust in him based on what he gave us.”
House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, said before Bouchard's social media post that he had spoken to the Governor’s office and local officials who are “very confident that the project is moving forward. They’re still excited about the project and expect it to be built, expect it to be completed. I know that this Governor’s office is committed to seeing it through. It’s a project that’s going to mean generational change for that area.”
When asked if Braidy had asked for any more state assistance, Osborne said: “Not that I’m aware of.”
The only statement from Gov. Andy Beshear’s office came through his spokesman, Sebastian Kitchen, saying, “We were previously advised of these changes and it is our understanding they do not impact the current status of the project.”
In a tweet from Braidy Industries account on late Friday afternoon, they issued the following statement: "The Board of Directors of Braidy Industries confirmed its action of Jan. 28, 2020, removing Craig Bouchard as CEO and Chairman. The Board and CEO Tom Modrowski are committed to the Ashland community and focused on building the Kentucky mill."
Braidy Industries is building a $1.7 billion aluminum rolling mill near Ashland. Thursday’s announcement came on the heels of last week’s news that 1,000 jobs were being lost with the closure of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.
Kentucky's state government contributed $15 million to the company in 2017. The company has said previously it needed $500 million in equity and more than $1 billion in debt financing.
The biggest investor announced is United Co. Rusal, a Russian firm that agreed last year to invest $200 million in the project. Rusal is a major aluminum company with operations in several countries.
Braidy broke ground on the mill in June 2018 but it has not started construction on the plant. The company has said it will be operational by 2022.