Hydro Cassopolis celebrates construction milestone with ‘Kranselag’ ceremony

Published 4:52 pm Monday, April 17, 2023

CASSOPOLIS — A special ceremony was held Monday to celebrate a major milestone in the construction of a global aluminum company’s state-of-the-art aluminum recycling plant.

Dozens of Community members, partners, and friends gathered at the Midwest Energy and Communications SMART Park in Cassopolis as Hydro celebrated the roof installation of the main buildings at its new aluminum recycling plant.

A Norway-based aluminum and renewable energy company with more than 30,000 worldwide employees, Hydro broke ground on its $150 million aluminum recycling facility in April 2022. Production at the Cassopolis facility will commence in late 2023 with approximately 70 employees. When ramped up to full production, the plant will produce 120,000 metric tons of low-carbon aluminum extrusion ingot per year.

“I think it’s important to celebrate this milestone in the construction project,” said Ingrid Guddal, Head of Recycling in Hydro Aluminum Metal. “The construction workers have been working so well and so hard to achieve this milestone.” 

The construction milestone was marked with a Norwegian tradition called “Kranselag”, like a “topping out” ceremony in the U.S. where builders celebrate installation of the last beam in a new building. This was traditionally marked by the carpenters putting up a wreath or small tree in the ridge when the house was under roof – as was done at the ceremony in Cassopolis. Following the ceremony, a reception was held inside the building with lunch provided by Oak and Ash BBQ of Dowagiac.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Hydro here into Cassopolis,” said Cassopolis Village Manager Emilie LaGrow. “What a pleasure it is to be able to celebrate with them like this and to take part in a tradition from their country and bring it here. It’s just a privilege.”

According to Guddal, the eight key management positions for the project have joined over the last few months. They are already working full steam to establish a solid foundation from day one of operations in the fall. In March, Hydro started to recruit for positions in production, process, administration and materials management. Now, applications are open for production operators as well.

“They have already shown themselves to be a fantastic community partner and we can’t wait to see them open,” LaGrow said. “We know that they are already employing people here in our community. It’s great to see that happening already and we just look forward to this long, fantastic partnership.”

The state-of-the-art recycling plant in Cassopolis will strengthen Hydro’s ability to supply car makers and other industries in the U.S. with recycled aluminum. While electric vehicles are now a small percentage of the overall market, amounting to less than 3 percent of U.S. new auto sales in 2021, forecasters expect big increases in the next decade.

Hydro is looking forward to contributing to Cassopolis’ positive momentum.

“It really just continues to prove what we have all been saying, that you can be small, rural and exceptional,” LaGrow said. “Every opportunity and collaboration brings that more to the forefront and allows us to be a little more accessible and allows us to continue to grow. This is a phenomenal collaboration that we just couldn’t be more excited about.”