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EDA loan to help metal fabricators in Logan to expand

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Logan County-based company is undertaking its largest expansion in 25 years and will soon serve markets other than the mining industry in response to the "unsettling" coal industry, the company's co-owner said Thursday.

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority gave preliminary approval Thursday for an $885,000 loan to Holden-based Mining Repair Specialists.

The loan will help fund the company's $1.1 million investment in new equipment and a new 20,000-square-foot building, said Diana Barnette, who owns the company with her husband, Ronnie.

The total cost of the expansion is $2 million, Barnette said Thursday. She believes the new equipment will be ready by April.

"Just looking forward, we can see the coal industry is unsettling and in order to remain viable, we have decided to expand and tap into other industries," she said. "We are expanding into any kind of industry that would need any metal fabrication. If you look around, everything is metal and has gears and shafts. The possibilities are endless."

The aerospace industry is one that could utilize Mining Repair Specialists' services, she said.

The new equipment includes robotic welders, laser torches and state-of-the-art computer numerical control (CNC) equipment, including a boring mill, lathe and machining center, she said.

CNC tools are more precise, Barnette said. "They allow us to be competitive when it comes to pricing and the quality of our work."

Barnette said the company tore down an existing 18,000-square-foot building that had a "chopped up" layout and didn't flow. The building started at 4,000 square feet but "naturally grew" as the company added square footage throughout the years, she said.

"We wanted to build a new building because we weren't using about a third of it because of the walls we added. It was a hindrance to have different spaces," Barnette said.

Mining Repair Specialists has grown from eight employees 25 years ago to 28 employees today, she said.

The project is expected to add nine jobs. The company will have to hire trained CNC operators and salespeople who know how to sell to the industries they anticipate working with, she said.

Barnette said the main push behind the expansion is ensuring employees keep their jobs.

"This is to retain our employees ... we all know what the coal industry is right now and our employees are important to us," Barnette said. "We've expanded on small scales but nothing like this. This is the big one, and we're very excited."

Barnette said Mining Repair Specialists plans to host a grand reopening closer to April.

Also Thursday, EDA members gave preliminary approval for a nearly $78,000 loan to Blackheart International to buy new equipment. The Barbour County company is expanding its manufacturing capability that will be used to make tactical gear and accessories.

The Philippi-based business is a security and military tactical gear supply company. The project is expected to create eight jobs in the next three years.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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