Bidell ready to begin operations in Weirton
WEIRTON — A more than $3 million investment into the area was unveiled Thursday, when Bidell Gas Compression hosted an open house to showcase the renovations undertaken at its new home in the north end of Weirton.
The 100,000-square-foot building at 1400 Main St., formerly used as a machine shop by ArcelorMittal Steel and its predecessors, is set to begin production of the company’s gas compressor systems in the coming weeks; six months after Bidell announced plans to come to the city.
“We’re ready to do business in Weirton, West Virginia,” Dan Martin, vice president of manufacturing for Bidell’s U.S. division, said Thursday.
Martin also announced the company had secured its first orders — three compressor systems for MarkWest Energy Partners, estimated at $1 million each.
Bidell took possession of the property Feb. 14, announcing its plans March 10, and has spent the months since working to renovate the building, including the purchase of new cranes and other equipment, constructing work spaces for a variety of jobs, as well as creating office space.
The building had been non-operational for between eight and 10 years, according to Martin, but the task was accomplished with support and assistance from many in Weirton and surrounding communities, as well as state officials.
“A vision, a community and a great state helped get everything turned around,” Martin said.
Carol Lotzgeselle, controller for the Weirton facility, explained more than $3 million has been spent, to date, in refurbishing the property, with the majority of it spent in the Tri-State Area. Of that, $800,000 was spent in the Northern Panhandle, she said.
“That didn’t happen by accident,” she said, explaining the importance for the company to invest locally in their operations.
Of the 34 current employees, Lotzgeselle said 15 live in Weirton, with seven from other surrounding West Virginia communities, eight from Ohio and three from Pennsylvania.
The hope, she said, is to add another 100 positions by the end of 2018.
David Raveau, a Weirton resident who is the chief inspector for quality and control, as well as the head of their training program, noted Bidell knew there would be a lack of training in the local workforce, and has been committed to making certain new employees have the proper knowledge for their new jobs.
Training for non-employees also will be available beginning next week, Raveau said, to ensure additional residents will be ready when jobs become available.
Plans also are being developed to create apprenticeship programs, and instructional materials are being provided to local community colleges and technical schools.
Martin explained, until now, many of the gas compressor systems used in the natural gas industry have come from companies in Texas and Oklahoma. He said that will stop with Bidell opening up operations.
“We’re going to build them right here in Weirton,” Martin said.
Bidell Gas Compression is a subsidiary of Total Energy Services, Inc., a company based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Weirton facility will serve as the company’s U.S. headquarters.
(Howell can be contacted at email@example.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)