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Conn-Weld Serves This Generation and Cares About the Next


April 8, 2024 - Recently, CoalZoom had the opportunity to visit Conn-Weld Industries, LLC. of Princeton, WV. The company is best known for its custom engineered vibrating screens, which are used around the world and Conn-Weld takes pride in manufacturing equipment from raw material to finished product. Conn-Weld provides onsite support, measuring to direct fit, maintenance seminars, and a selection of other services.

Founded in 1975, Conn-Weld was begun on a philosophy of service and support to the industry that stands above the rest. Jim Connolly, founded the company, when he came up with a patented welding process to weld wedge wire screens and manufacture them faster than anybody in the industry. Five years later, the company started producing its own wire and continued its growth pattern by expanding its products and markets. With that came the need to expand its physical location and build up its workforce. So, from 1975 to today, Conn-Weld has been on a path of expansion, starting with their original building, which was literally a garage, to the 500,000 square feet of production that exists today. Conn-Weld is global with employees and representatives all over the world. The Princeton Plant has over 300 employees.

Anna Semonco, Director of Marketing & Business Development, and Marvin Woodie, CEO


About 60% of our business comes from the coal industry,” explained Marvin Woodie, Conn-Weld’s President & CEO. “Vibrating screens and sieves are our main products. We manufacture and service vibrating screens for washing coal, and also all the parts that go with that. Screen media is also a big part of our production here at Conn-Weld as well.”

Woodie is surrounded by a strong management team. The Director of Marketing and Business Development is Anna Semonco and she is also from southern West Virginia. The CFO is Melissa Wood. She and Woodie went to school together, but didn't know each other as well then as they do now. She came on board to take over the Accounting Department as well as Human Resources. The Vice President of Engineering, Anthony Fink, is from Princeton, West Virginia. He went to WVU Tech and got his mechanical engineering degree. He started at Conn-Weld in the mid-'90s and has been with the company ever since.

The Vice President of the Aggregates Division, Sean Weisiger, from Richmond, Virginia. has his Master's in Mineral Processing. He provides an array of services to the industry as well as sales. Conn-Weld just hired Joe Teague for the role of Vice President of the Hard Rock and Industrial Minerals Division, and Rob Clemons is the Manager of the Coal Division. Conn-Weld is blessed with a strong upper management team, strong mid-management, and excellent people throughout the facility.


Marvin Wood, right, with some of his production team

The way the original plant was laid out was somewhat limited because the company was landlocked for many years. Conn-Weld initially had only a small area of land, and has since grown by purchasing all the land around it. There are about 100 acres on top of the mountain today and all the buildings were designed and erected by the company’s own construction team.

Production machinery includes specialty machines for Conn-Weld’s unique welding processes for its screen media. There are also large machine tools comprising everything from lasers, to water jet cutters, to CNC machines, that can do turning and milling operations in one machine. There are punch presses, beamlines, punch and shear, saws and drills, and Conn-Weld is also looking at some new equipment. Shot-blasting is also carried out as well with state-of-the-art shot-blasting equipment coming on line that will increase production rates at least by two times. By this means, metal processing capacity will be increased and plans are being made to purchase a lot of other new equipment as well.

Asked by CoalZoom what his view of the future of the coal mining industry, Marvin explained that he recently attended the SME Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. Jimmy Brock, the President & CEO of CONSOL Energy, did a really nice presentation on the future of coal, and introduced CONSOL’s “Not So Fast” campaign. This is a brilliant project about the effort of some to shut down prematurely coal-fired thermal plants generating electricity in the United States.

“Meanwhile, worldwide production of coal last year was 8.8 billion tons, which is a record,” said Woodie. “Coal still has a place around the world for thermal production of power because it’s abundant and cost-effective to generate electricity versus any other type of energy production. So, the world knows the value of coal.”

“Metallurgical coal will also continue to be strong,” added Woodie. “The price of met coal is as solid as it's been in quite some time. While there have been peaks and little valleys in the past four years, pricing is still very strong.”

Woodie went on to explain that the owner of Conn-Weld, Cliff Forrest, is a metallurgical coal operator. He knows the value of metallurgical coal because he used his mining companies to diversify his portfolio in business. He has 14 other companies that he has as part of his network of businesses, so he's used his knowledge of coal to hire a lot more people throughout the United States for his new businesses. This is strategic to growing the economy. He's the model of proper growth, both through M&A and through organic growth for business in this country.

”It's a beautiful scenario, and we’re glad to be a part of that,” said Woodie. ”Conn-Weld is glad to be a part of that because it allows us to continue our growth and to hire  more West Virginians.”

As we concluded our most interesting visit to Conn-Weld, Marvin added: “We really appreciate CoalZoom coming here, seeing what we do, and contributing to Conn- Weld as a way to communicate with not only the coal industry but other mining industries as well. So, we're very happy that you took the time to visit us. Thank you for that.”

Anna Semonco, who had just returned to the office after taking a group of school children on a tour of the Conn-Weld plant added. “It's very important for us to get out and to let our students know what's in their own backyard and the opportunities that we have here,” she said. “One of the young men asked me, what would my dream job be? And I honestly said, I just love my present job.”

Both Marvin and Anna are dedicated about the next generation of younger people and it shows. “We're both former McDowell Countians, and we're very passionate about making sure that the narrative changes and that young people do not have to leave West Virginia to have opportunities,” she said.

We departed Conn-Weld with an excellent impression of a well-managed company, not only making a profit for its owners and serving its industry well, but also dedicated to ensuring that it contributes to the economy of the region. It is also in the company’s DNA to always play its part in providing good paying jobs as well as hope for the next generation of West Virginians.

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