Manufacturing maven Mary Anne Ketelsen brings new tech and good jobs to the state.
Mary Anne Ketelsen is well-known across the state as president of West Virginia Potato Chip Company in Parkersburg. Founded in 1951 as Mister Bee Potato Chip Company, the beloved home state snack maker was faltering in the early 2010s. Ketelsen and partners bought the operation in 2015 and turned it around. We honored Ketelsen as a WV Living Wonder Woman in 2020.
A graduate of Glenville State College, Ketelsen has broad experience in manufacturing. She spent nearly three decades at American Cyanamid and Solvay earlier in her career, learning quality control, distribution, human resources, and customer service. Improving efficiency on the manufacturing floor is one of her particular skills, one that requires analysis of equipment, materials, and workflow as well as an awareness of technological advancements.
Her latest venture is based on very new technologies indeed.
Ketelsen and two partners created Blue Rock Manufacturing to make products based on energy efficiency technologies patented by DST Innovations of South Wales in the United Kingdom.
Under construction now in the Metro Business Park in Morgantown, the manufacturing and laboratory facility will assemble or make three products, according to information supplied by the partnership:
Pentralux lighting that can be configured in almost any shape and color, offers high illumination with low power usage, and works with Bluetooth connectivity for smart operating systems;
Videobrix, a modular screen technology that creates affordable, easily installed, impactful digital displays of any size that can withstand moisture and extremes in temperature and maintain high energy efficiency; and
Batri, an energy cell technology that converts coal and other organic materials into activated hard carbon and eliminates the need for rare earth elements that are in increasingly short supply.
The new West Virginia facility will add to existing manufacturing capacity for Pentralux and Videobrix, which are already on the market—in fact, Arts Collaborative of the Mid-Ohio Valley in Parkersburg recently installed the first sign in West Virginia made of Videobrix. The battery cell production will be newly launched here.
As a manufacturer, Ketelsen has a deep appreciation for efficiency, and she believes in obvious efficiencies like the cool touch of Videobrix and the long life of Petralux lighting. As the new facility is being constructed, she can’t wait to see the manufacturing process up and running and to promote the new products.
The Morgantown facility will begin operating in early 2022. It will create good-paying, high-tech science and manufacturing jobs and is expected to eventually employ as many as 1,000, with another facility in southern West Virginia possibly to follow.
Blue Rock Manufacturing’s investment in advanced energy technologies builds on West Virginia’s proud history in energy production while raising the state’s profile in that critical and fast-evolving sector’s future. For that we honor her with our 2021 WV Living Wonder Women Sword of Athena Award for Ingenuity.