This profile was originally published by The Star-Herald in its 2016-17 Newcomers & Visitors Guide.

By Kel McDowell, CEO, Kosciusko Attala Partnership

Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy is an ever-growing market that is projected to have dramatic impacts on global commerce. The vast potential of solar energy continues to be accompanied by significant advances in research and a multitude of investment.

It’s a niche in this market that has Attala Steel, headquartered in Kosciusko, shining bright like, well, the sun.

The firm supplies the materials that compose the frames for PV panels, going towards largescale solar farm projects, both domestically and internationally.

“We work all over the United States and recently shipped a load to Jordan,” said Attala Steel plant manager Mark Lindsey, who notes that his products “ship all over the world.”

It was a serendipitous, yet astute, path that led the founder Billy Atwood to his involvement in the solar PV market.

“About twenty-five years ago, Billy [Atwood] got into the guard rail business,” said Lindsey, a longtime associate of Atwood. “It was after installing the guard rails that he (Atwood) decided he could actually manufacture all the parts that go into the system and be a leg up on all his competitors.”

Atwood and his team excelled.

“We must have been in the top three in the US of all guardrail suppliers,” Lindsey said. “Then we wanted to expand our market, and got inquiries about making beams for the solar panel industry.”

And their work catapulted from there.

“It (solar beams) was very similar to what we were doing (with guardrails),” Lindsey added. “So we landed in the solar business, which has been the very best fit. It is a very strong market.”

Since being established in 2006, Attala Steel has seen impressive growth – in terms of footprint, operations, and the number of individuals it employs. An expansion in 2013 resulted in Attala Steel adding a galvanizing component to its Kosciusko facility, resulting in the team once again finding a competitive advantage.

“That (expansion) allowed us to be the only company in the US that actually rolls the steel, saws it, touches it and galvanizes it in one location,” Lindsey said. “And that’s where we are so far ahead of our competitors.”

“Someone can call us today and need an order tomorrow. We can do it while the other guys can’t; they’re dependent on an outside galvanizer.”

Prior to the 2013 expansion, Attala Steel employed thirty-four individuals in Kosciusko. Presently, the firm boasts a team of more than one hundred in the community. With an additional location in Birmingham, Alabama, the Attala Steel team spans miles as well. In all, the Kosciusko-based operations produce approximately thirty tons of product per hour.

The company continues to grow within Attala County, recently constructing another building to facilitate even more projects.

And continue shining even brighter.