A family legacy
Ampal Inc. in Palmerton purchased this building in 2015 to use for offices and the Technical Department for research and development. It will also become the headquarters for Ampal's parent company, United States Metal Powders Inc., later this year. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS Copyright - CUPPEK PHOTOGRAPHY LLC
A plaque in honor of K. Clive Ramsey was installed in Ampal's newly acquired office building. KRISTINE PORTER / TIMES NEWS Copyright - CUPPEK PHOTOGRAPHY LLC
The new logo for Ampal combines its red A-shape and name with the eagle logo of its parent company, United States Metal Powders Inc. "Shaping the Future Together" was added to reflect the combining of the headquarters into the one location in Palmerton and an effort to create more uniformity between both and the Poudres Hermillon office in France. That logo has been changed to the red, white and blue, which are the colors used here. PROVIDED PHOTO Copyright - CUPPEK PHOTOGRAPHY LLC
Louise Ramsey Thomas Copyright - CUPPEK PHOTOGRAPHY LLC
Louise Ramsey Thomas knew she would never sell her father's company, United States Metal Powders Inc., the parent company of Ampal Inc. in Palmerton and Poudres Hermillon in France.
"My dad had two loves - his family and his business," Thomas said.
Her mother passed away in 2015 and then her father in June 2016.
There was interest in the purchasing the business.
"I'm so blessed to carry on the legacy," she said.
Thomas is the new president of USMP, Ampal and Poudres Hermillon.
"This is exactly what he would want," said Niels Nielson, senior vice president and operation manager.
Nielson has been with the company since the 1970s when Thomas' father, K. Clive Ramsey, took over. Nielson retired in 2002, but stayed on a consultant. Then he came back full-time to help out the family - Thomas and her brothers, Patrick and Peter.
"We're constantly in touch. It's a team approach," she said about her brothers. "We're 100 percent in it."
In addition to her brothers, Thomas credits her staff, in particular Nielson; Jessu Joys, vice president and global technical director; Rhonda Kastler, executive vice president and general manager; and Kerry Waybel, production superintendent, with making the transition smooth.
"I couldn't have done it without them," she said.
Thomas didn't come into the position cold. She has been attending the company's management meetings for about six years, and her father spent the last nine months of his life educating her on the business.
Thomas also has a business finance degree from Columbia Business School, and has worked for USMP and on Wall Street.
"I come with a fresh eye," she said.
Thomas is moving the headquarters from Flemington, New Jersey, to the offices and manufacturing location on Little Gap Road.
Originally, the company purchased the office building owned by the Great American Pellet Co. in 2015. The plan was to move the Technical Center for Research and Development to Palmerton, but now the whole company will move from New Jersey.
She said the company's vision is "Shaping the Future Together."
"It's the perfect way to envision the future," she said. "We need to be one."
That's why the company developed a new logo that incorporates elements from USMP and Ampal, and updated the websites for both the American and French companies.
Thomas said all of the employees in New Jersey were invited to stay in their jobs after the move. Many of them are staying and plan to move to the Palmerton area. Some already live within a drivable distance. Thomas is staying in New Jersey, because her husband works there and her three children are in high school.
Nielson said he is encouraged by the changes in the company.
"There's things we are thinking about doing that are just as exciting as when we started 30 years ago," he said. "That's why I'm here."
Ampal provides aluminum powder to more than 180 countries and is finding hundreds of uses for its products. It has been a major player in the aerospace and automotive industries by providing lightweight but strong parts.
Vice President and Global Technical Director Jessu Joys said he expects the company to expand production capacity in the next three years, which means hiring more personnel.
"We've been very stable and we're always looking to keep improving," said production superintendent Kerry Waybel.
Now, Ampal has its sights set on getting bigger piece of the 3D printing market.
"The big new player is 3D printing," said Executive Vice President Rhonda Kastler. "Developing and selling to that industry is important. We want to be the leader in this one."
In recent years, 3D printing has grown from just plastics to many different materials including metals, organic materials like bone and even chocolate.