Ashland, Kentucky-based Braidy Industries has announced that Chairman and CEO Craig Bouchard is stepping down from those positions. President Tom Modrowski has been named interim CEO, and Charles Price has been named the new board chairman at Braidy Industries.
Braidy Industries describes itself as entering its “final fundraising stage” as it builds a $1.7 billion aluminum alloys plant near Ashland. (A 2019 Recycling Today interview with Modrowski about the project can be found here.)
According to a Braidy press release, Bouchard will remain a member of Braidy Industries’ board of directors. “Tom [Modrowski] and the board will continue to focus our efforts on completing fundraising and planning for construction of the Ashland mill,” says Price.
The company describes new board Chairman Price as a native of Kentucky and a successful entrepreneur who “is well-positioned to focus the company on the completion of the aluminum mill initiative in Ashland.”
The new President Modrowski has been with Braidy since its inception and has more than 30 years of experience in the metals business, including senior roles at various metal and metal processing businesses, according to Braidy.
The company adds, “Site planning work and fundraising continues unabated for the first greenfield aluminum rolling mill in the U.S. in more than 37 years. The 1.5 million square foot complex will use state-of-the-art technology to serve the rapidly growing needs of the transportation industry.”
However, the leadership change has added to scrutiny the project is receiving from some media organizations in Kentucky. That scrutiny largely started when former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin pledged $15 million in state taxpayer dollars to become an investor in Braidy Industries.
The scrutiny has intensified as funding has failed to be finalized, and one of the sources of funding that has been found took the form of Russia-based aluminum firm Rusal. Rusal has spent part of the decade subject to United States Treasury sanctions, tied in part to a Mueller Report-related investigation into Rusal’s owner’s potential involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections.
The recent leadership change also attracted attention when initial media reports of Bouchard stepping down were followed up by social media posts by Bouchard himself denying the change. Braidy confirmed the change, however, with its Jan. 31 news release.
Skeptics of the Braidy Industries project may have received additional ammunition from a comment by the Republican leader of the Kentucky Senate, Robert Stivers, who reportedly told the media in late January, “Until it gets built, you always have to have concerns.”
In the meantime, the Braidy board and executives are pushing ahead with efforts to build an aluminum alloys production and rolling plant with a planned annual capacity of 300,000 tons of 3000, 5000 and 6000 series aluminum sheet for the automotive and beverage can industries.