WOOSTER — GOJO Industries got an appropriately sunny morning Thursday to flip the switch on its new solar field, which will power all distribution operations at the company’s Wooster facility.

Since September, GOJO has installed 1,836 solar panels on the grounds of its Akron Road campus, the former site of Rubbermaid’s headquarters. The solar array will produce more than 755,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year. That's enough to power the facility’s distribution operations, or about half of the plant’s floor space, said Ron Hammond, GOJO’s chief supply chain officer and vice president.

The solar field is part of the Akron-based skin care and hygiene company’s broader effort to increase sustainability by 2020, one of the goals of which was to power distribution operations with renewable energy. GOJO met its goal two years ahead of schedule.

“We are so proud for this moment,” said Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, GOJO’s executive chairwoman, at an event celebrating the project’s completion. “We have been thinking about installing a solar field to offset our distribution energy consumption for a long time.”

The event, attended by GOJO employees and city government leaders, concluded with Kanfer Rolnick and Tom Marting, GOJO’s facilities and resource management director, flipping the switch to make the solar array operational.

Marting said the solar project is one of several the company has undertaken since 2015 to make the Wooster facility more sustainable. He said the plant has replaced about half of its old light bulbs with smart LED lighting systems and switched to a more energy efficient heating and ventilation system. And last December, the company completed a rail siding project that drastically cuts down the carbon footprint of moving freight.

“It’s a generational project in two senses of the word,” he said. “We’re actually generating power, but it’s also going to be here for the next generation.”

During the ceremony, Wooster Mayor Bob Breneman thanked GOJO for its commitment to the city, noting that the company has already exceeded the number of expected hires at the plant.

“We just pinch ourselves every day here in Wooster saying we’re so lucky to have attracted a company like GOJO into an empty facility that had once been a hallmark of our community,” he said.

 

Reporter Jack Rooney can be reached at 330-287-1645 or jrooney@the-daily-record.com. He is on Twitter at twitter.com/RooneyReports.