Our company history dates to 1910. We offer a wealth of experience designing, manufacturing, installing, and servicing custom acid-resistant and heat transfer products used in highly corrosive processes for the chemical and mining industries worldwide. In fact, there are few countries where you cannot find our products. However, our overseas customers know us better than the local community in East Canton. One statement we often hear within our area is, “I’ve never heard of you.” However, that has started to change in the last year.
As a previous part of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the United States, many doors opened while our company was part of the Koch Engineered Solutions group. After a divestiture to High Street Capital in December of 2021, we became a new venture under the name Knight Material Technologies. Yet, our central location has always been in northeast Ohio.
This new divestiture has also opened doors for us to expand our offerings in innovative solutions, services, and new infrastructure. We also have a blank slate to develop our unique culture and invest in community outreach. And it all started with our sponsorship of a major event over Labor Day weekend this September.
Sponsoring the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic in Canton, OH
Knight Material Technologies sponsored the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic game, the culmination of related events spanning Sept. 1-4, played at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The goal is to drive awareness of the Classic and promote interest in historically Black colleges and universities.
This opportunity was sparked by Kevin Burwell, Knight General Counsel, through his long association with Stark County development organizations. Burwell was approached by the Stark County Moving Forward organization, whose objective is to provide resources that promote diversity and inclusion, with the request to help fill a space on the CEO committee. Kevin Brooks, Knight CEO, was introduced to the committee, and from there, the rest fell into place, including the sponsorship of the Classic and an invitation extended to Burwell to take a seat on the Committee for the Black College Football Hall of Fame, which he gladly accepted.
As part of its involvement in this historic game, the company’s headquarters in East Canton received a visit from Mel Blount, standout cornerback for 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 1975 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Blount was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Black College Football Hall of Fame, making him both a gold jacket and black jacket member.
His visit was a joy to the employees and a recognition to the company’s involvement. After speaking to the employees and a couple of rounds of pictures, Blount took a tour of the production facility and gave out tickets to the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic game. Knight Material Technologies will continue this sponsorship of the Classic into 2023.
Growing Opportunities within the Canton, Ohio Community
Brooks said about this new venture in outreach into the local community, “Our hope is to spark recognition among the employees here that there are numerous opportunities for community involvement and that we support their interests and efforts to give back.”
He continued, “Secondly, we’re trying to foster new culture and a new level of commitment to the Canton area. We want our employees to take pride not only in the quality of the materials we manufacture at Knight, but also pride in the type of company that employs them.”
Knight’s new initiative to invest in the local community has alerted local economic development groups in Stark County and Northeast Ohio to the company’s land-standing existence in the community. And in turn, economic development groups point to this solid manufacturing base in Northeast Ohio to help promote the area to potential investors or companies interested in relocation, not to mention the benefits in jobs and other resources.
Said Brooks, “No company exists in a vacuum. Part of our responsibility as residents of Northeast Ohio is to give back. We intend to expand our efforts to dig deeper into the Canton area with future volunteer efforts or sponsorships.”
Enhancing Knight’s Company Culture
What’s next for Knight’s community involvement? With the new ownership structure giving Knight the ability to pursue involvement that hadn’t been encouraged before, Burwell is looking for more opportunities for the company to get involved in giving back. Some ideas the company is looking into include volunteering opportunities for employees or events at the company location. While helping the local community, Knight is hoping to develop the company culture as part of a rewarding career for current and future employees.
By collaborating with Merrie Smith, HR Business Partner at Knight, Burwell has developed a team working to enhance company culture, stating, “she knows what it means to have the team engaged, involved, and what that does for your reputation, what that does for morale. You want to feel good about the place you work.”
Whatever happens next, you can be sure that Knight will continue to give back to the community it has quietly been a part of for so many years.
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