By Carra Higgins
Faith in the coal industry and its future for local and worldwide need has created new jobs and the potential for more growth for the recently established Whayne-Walker Underground Mining.
The announcement came Tuesday morning at the Walker Hydraulic and Machine Shop at Sophia.
The Caterpillar equipment dealership President and Chief Executive Officer Monty Boyd met Tuesday with several employees and told them he’s looking forward to the opportunities ahead since the formation of Whayne-Walker Underground Mining, which began when Whayne Supply and Walker Machinery acquired from Caterpillar Global Mining LLC, the Bucyrus equipment distribution and support business for its territories. Previously, the company supplied equipment to only surface mines.
Now, Whayne-Walker Underground Mining will focus on supplying and servicing the large equipment used by underground coal mines in areas of West Virginia, Kentucky, southern Indiana and southeastern Ohio.
Boyd said the company is employing 38 new people, some of whom will be re-locating to the Beckley area. The employees, Boyd commented, are receptive and “very positive” about moving into the business of underground mining equipment and the challenges of supplying the new equipment and helping its customers.
“As we grow this business, there will certainly be opportunities for additional employment,” Boyd said. “It will really depend on the market and how soon it turns around for us. ... The coal industry is very resilient.”
Although the coal mining industry is currently facing challenges, such as an economic downturn and an increased popularity of natural gas, Boyd is confident the market will turn around and coal will continue to be needed around the U.S. and world.
Boyd explained he has studied the coal market and thinks there is a positive future for the underground coal mining industry.
“This money is being invested for the long-term,” Boyd said. “As I’ve explained to our employees, this industry [mining] sees ups and downs, we’re certainly going through a down time right now, and it’s a little deeper than we’ve seen in the past. But, as we look at it from a world standpoint, there’s a tremendous demand for electrical energy and coal will be one of those sources and we feel that long-term the United States and the rest of the world will have a strong demand for coal.”
Roy Shrewsbury, area businessman and a former board chairman of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, was on hand to support the new venture and announcement.
“This is huge,” Shrewsbury said. “He’s [Boyd] created an environment for his employees’ for job security. When you think about a company like Caterpillar, you start at the top of a mountain and move all the dirt down to the coal seams and be able to mine those as well with a one-stop shop. Coal is so important to our area, and all of West Virginia.”
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