June 24, 2022 - Fayette County, West Virginia gained a new corporate entity on Thursday.
And, with it, that corporation gained foothold in its sixth different country of operation.
An official welcome and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on June 16 for Gainwell Engineering.
Gainwell Engineering, an international company headquartered in India, selected Fayette County as its newest location for mining equipment-related sales and repair in North America, according to a press release ahead of Thursday's event.
The firm's aim is to employ more than 40 people at the facility in the next three years.
Fayette County commissioners Allison Taylor and Tom Louisos were joined by several municipal, state and federal elected officials and their representatives in making the announcement alongside Gainwell Engineering representatives.
According to officials, Gainwell's mission will be to enhance the mining industry in North America with spare parts sales and support, equipment rebuilds and repairs, and new equipment sales.
Fayetteville resident Jason Sizemore, general manager for U.S. operations for Gainwell, said, "The main focus of the business will be supporting the underground mining community, along with the existing population of the highwall miners that's out there. With the commercial license agreement that we have acquired, there's an existing population of equipment that is out there and it's running and being utilized every day. And highwall miner equipment.
"So, we'll be looking at supporting that equipment in North America with after-market parts, service and sales support. And also (there are) some other aspects of the business that we will support."
Gainwell's Hico operation currently has five employees. "As we continue to build the business, our employment opportunities will grow also," said Sizemore. "We just opened the door, so to say. ... We've been having large inquiries from a lot of customers all over the United States and into Mexico and Canada."
"Coal is cyclical," added Sizemore. "It comes and goes.
"If you look where we were in 2016, it was a much lower production rate than what it is today. But the people in the industry are resilient. The workers are determined but passionate about what they do. The guys that work in the mines are probably some of the hardest-working work force that there is in the country and some parts of the world, by far. It's almost like a brotherhood.
"We're kind of the same way as an equipment supplier."
Sizemore said Fayette County's coal mining heritage was a drawing card for the eventual decision to locate in Hico, as well as its work force.
Besides the United States, other countries with Gainwell locations include India, Singapore and Australia.
"We want to hire as many local people as we can," Sizemore said. "Not only from the workforce, but anything that we hire out, from contractors to when we have local people that come and work on the facility, local people that supply us with parts, local people that supply us with goods, mow the grass ... Whatever it may be, we want to utilize the local area as much as possible."
The new Gainwell location is leased in the building formerly occupied by Gauley-Robertson, which was owned by The Baughan Group. It has been vacant for 2-3 years, Sizemore said. It is situated on U.S. Rte. 60 across from the Midland Trail School Complex.
"This is a really exciting day for Fayette County and the New River Gorge region, and we really want to celebrate Gainwell Engineering choosing Fayette County for their first U.S. location," said Jina Belcher, executive director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. "We're excited to offer them the resources that the state can provide in terms of labor, incentives and other resources through the region and the local officials."
"We are so excited to have you (motioning toward the Gainwell delegation) here," said Taylor, who is the president of the Fayette County Commission. "You have no idea. I feel this is a drop in the bucket to the things that are to come to this area, and I would love it if (those in attendance including the media) would spread the word that Fayette County is open for business. ... We look forward to working with you."
"We are looking forward to bringing more businesses and economic development into this area," Taylor added. "We're adjacent to the national park. We have support from our federal and state legislators and the governor to have funding for infrastructure which has been long needed here."
Taylor also thanked the NRGRDA for its assistance in various economic development matters.
"Any time (commission members) called the NRGRDA and asked for help and asked for advice on how to incentivize (businesses to relocate to the area), they have the answers. They hit the ground running."
Taylor also said the commission is working with the Town of Ansted regarding needed infrastructure in the area. "We think this is the next biggest area of growth," she said. "We've prioritized this area for infrastructure."
"Commissioner Louisos started it when he was elected trying to get the Rte. 19 corridor management plan (updated)," Taylor stressed. "The zoning restrictions were too much.
"Developers just didn't want to fill out the applications and do all that stuff to develop along 19. And we don't want to create a mess, but we still have the ability to control aesthetics and things like that with our more liberal zoning that we have now."
Sunil Chaturvedi, Gainwell Engineering chairman, was among those present Thursday. He said he was "so happy" that the company could put down roots in Fayette County. Company officials evaluated several options and "finally settled around setting ourself up here in this county," he said.
He also said he was "enormously proud" of officials from the local area who worked with Gainwell to make the move come to fruition.