In 1892, Milton Kennickell opened a small print shop in downtown Savannah. Despite having only one press, the one-man operation quickly developed a reputation for getting jobs out on time.
When Milton’s twin sons, Alfred and Ralph, inherited the business, they took the operation in a different direction. By 1950, Kennickell had gone from being the smallest printer in town to the largest – due largely to their early move from metal letterpress to offset printing.
Al Kennickell Jr. continued that tradition of progress when he became president in 1981, purchasing the first four-color printer within 130 miles of Savannah.
Now the Kennickell Group with 75 employees, the oldest family-owned business, in Savannah was honored Thursday for its 120 years of continuous operation at the annual Manufacturing Anniversary Awards breakfast at the Savannah Morning News.
Sponsored by the Savannah Economic Development Authority, Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, Savannah Morning News and SEDA’s Business Retention Action Team, the breakfast also honored four other manufacturers observing significant decade anniversaries in 2012.
Close behind Kennickell in longevity was Southern States Chemical – a Dulany Company – with 110 years and 65 employees.
Southern States is one of the largest suppliers of sulfuric acid on the East Coast.
Southern States Phosphate and Fertilizer built the Savannah Fertilizer plant in 1902. In 1940, Savannahian Franklin Reed Dulany and three partners purchased Southern States, electing Dulany as president and CEO.
Since 1999, F. Reed Dulany III has led the company and its parent, Dulany Industries as chairman and CEO. Key Compton has served as president of Southern States since 1996.
Ashland Hercules Water Technologies opened in 1922 as Paper Makers Chemical Co. and was purchased by Hercules in 1931. Ashland purchased the plant in 2008.
With 35 employees, the specialty manufacturer makes chemicals that improve the strength and quality of such paper products as paper towels and corrugated cardboard.
Celebrating 40 years, Jackson Printing and its four employees were honored earlier this year when they received the top award for both sales growth and management skills from the Certified Printers Alliance International.
Observing its 20th anniversary, Port City Metals specializes in custom fabrication, metal roofing and sheet and plate fabrication. Its 20 employees create everything from power cart and parts cages for Gulfstream to custom stainless lettering for the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta campus.
The awards were presented by Bill Hubbard, president of the Savannah Chamber, and Trip Tollison, acting president of SEDA.