WATCH: Former New York Yankee, Hardin County native comes home to lead electric battery plant

By Quin Welch, Building Kentucky

Ryan Wheeler, left, walks through Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant with William Clay Ford Jr. Photo credit: Ryan Wheeler

The BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale, Kentucky is scheduled to begin production in 2025, but the company has already made key hires as it prepares to spark an electric vehicle revolution in the heart of the Commonwealth.

One of those new hires is Elizabethtown’s very own Ryan Wheeler, who will lead BlueOval SK Battery Park Plant No. 2 as the plant manager. Wheeler, a 1992 graduate of Elizabethtown High School, is returning home to Hardin County as the BlueOval SK Battery Park — the largest economic development project in Kentucky history.

Wheeler’s story started on the baseball diamond, where he played second base and in the outfield. After an excellent high school career as an Elizabethtown Panther, Wheeler attended Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, and was then drafted by the New York Yankees in 1996. After injuries derailed his career in professional baseball, Wheeler accepted a job working as a production supervisor at the Ford plant in Louisville in 1999.

Ford proved to be a wonderful place to work, so Wheeler stayed on and worked in various roles for the company in Kentucky, Michigan, Kansas City and Chicago. When the opportunity came to electrify the future in his home county with BlueOval SK — a joint venture between Ford and SK On — Wheeler jumped on it.

“Electric vehicles — it’s the future,” Wheeler said. “This facility is really going to be state of the art — state of the art process and state of the art technology.”

Many of Wheeler’s family and friends still live in the Hardin County area, allowing him the opportunity to see some the most special people in his life more often.

“Some of the best friends I have in my life are here in Elizabethtown,” Wheeler said. “I look forward to these next several years catching up on time lost.”

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