Wheeling sought to land Italian firm

WHEELING – The Italian firm Pietro Fiorentini continues to work out of its temporary home in Wheeling as it plans a permanent move to Weirton, but Wheeling development leaders said they did seek to keep the company in the city permanently.

Pietro Fiorentini – a maker of valves, meters and components for the oil and gas industry – announced Thursday it will build a manufacturing plant in the Three Springs Drive Business Park in Weirton. The company has shared a building with four other businesses near the Wheeling Industrial Park since March 2013.

“Their project was to find a temporary location to work out of while they looked at and assessed the market,” said Craig O’Leary, program director for the Regional Economic Development Partnership in Wheeling. “We showed them sites, as did Brooke and Hancock counties. They decided Wheeling was better for their temporary location, but the Weirton site better addressed their long-term needs.”

O’Leary said he wasn’t certain as to the company’s specific reasons for placing their future investment in Weirton over Wheeling.

“We’re just glad to have them in the region. They are employing our people, and their employees are going to live in our counties.”

Mario Villarde, a quality assurance engineer with Pietro Fiorentini at their Wheeling plant, said he didn’t know why the Weirton location was selected over one in Wheeling, and that the decision was made by the company’s executives in Italy.

During Thursday’s announcement, Pietro Fiorentini CEO Mario Nardi said the company selected a West Virginia location to build its first manufacturing plan in America to be near the larger Marcellus and Utica shale sites in West Virginia and Ohio. The company also considered how close proposed sites were to highways, airports and areas with strong engineering and technical schools, he said.

Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday.

Pietro Fiorentini expects to start construction on its new plant in about two years, and details about the size of the facility or the amount of investment in the facility have yet to be determined, according to Nardi.

The company, founded in 1938, has seven factories in Italy, two others in Europe, three in China, the production unit in Wheeling and 20 regional centers throughout the world.