September 12, 2019 - “It’s a great pleasure to welcome everyone to the Bluefield Coal Show and the first day is always an exciting one,” said Bill Reid, Chair of the newly named Media and Exhibitor Appreciation Breakfast, on the opening day of the show. “We are expecting over 7,000 to attend the show, but there is one important person missing,” Reid said, and asked everyone to bow their heads in a moment of silence in appreciation of the show’s founder and long-time chairman, Charlie Peters, ‘Mr. Coal Show’, who passed away in May last year.
Reid also paid tribute to Buddy Miller and his late dad, Frazier, who between them had run this breakfast since 1976. Reid thanked the members of the media for promoting the show and asked them to stand and introduce themselves. Present from the media were: Randy Mooney, Bluefield Daily Telegraph; Steve Fiscor, Vic Matteucci, Coal Age; Debra McCown Thomas, Lisa & Chuck Roper, Mining People; Michael Choppenhorst, Kyle Nickol, SEMCO Publishing; Frank Brady, WVVA- TV; Heather M. Turner, CoalZoom.com/Coalminerexchange.com; Reid also thanked the exhibitors present for supporting the show and attending the breakfast in large numbers. Reid thanked all the other dignatories for their support of both the show and the coal industry..
“The coal industry has experienced growth, change, triumph and challenge,” said Reid. “Although challenged by the remnants of the war on coal and abundantly cheap natural gas, there were some bright spots in the industry.” Reid referred to three new met coal mines being developed: Arch Coal New Leer South: CONSOL Energy, Itmann Mine; and Contura Energy, Lynn Branch Mine. Together, these new mines would need about 1,300 employees with another 5,200 indirect jobs dependent on these. That’s a total of 6,500 workers and that’s great news!
Bob Ramsey, the new Chair of the Coal Show, and president of Peters Equipment and Ramsey Industrial, both family owned businesses spoke: “It is a privelage to serve as the General Chairman for the 2019 coal show, honoring the tradition set forth by our former Chairman, the late Charles A. Peters. The show remains “A Coal Show for Coal People” and it was out of deep respect for Charles and his family, that I agreed to help guide and promote this important event for our area and our industry, in his memory.” Ramsey said that there is a total of 197 exhibitors including some 40 new exhibitors and paid tribute to so many dedicated volunteers from inside the industry and from within the community as well as the hardworking chamber staff, who make it a success!
A new feature of the show is the 1st Annual Charles A. Peters Excellence in Business Award Presentation which was presented to AMR/PEMCO, who was deemed the exhibitor that has supported the chamber the most throughout the 23 biennial years of the coal show. The award was accepted by David Graf, President; Bob Graf, CEO; and Jay Johnson, Vice President – Sales and Marketing for the company.
Jay Johnson introduced the breakfast speaker, Jimmy Brock, President and CEO, CONSOL Energy, who delivered a Keynote Address he called “Coal and the Changing Energy Landscape”.
“Globally, coal is a growth industry with a massive installed capacity base catering to a basic human necessity – access to electricity,” Brock said. “Domestically, coal demand is impacted by abundant natural gas but that could be changing. Natural gas will not stay cheap forever, and coal provides resiliency, which is very visible during extreme weather events. Coal continues to supply the lowest fully-loaded cost of electricity and as an industry, we will have to continue to invest in talent and new technology.”
At the conclusion of the breakfast, attendees made their way to the front of Brushfork Armory – Civic Center to witness Brock cut the ribbon and open the show. Both days of the coal show have been bathed in sunshine and exhibitors say that attendance is up on 2017. The chamber is giving away free lemonade as the temperature exceeded 90 degrees!
For Brock’s full remarks, see separate article “Jimmy Brock Opens Coal Show”.