The Aluminum Industry is Rolling with Help from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority

Skana Aluminum’s re-rolling mill in Clarksburg is allowing the company to access customers all over the East Coast. The company has worked with the WVEDA from the very beginning and he partnership played a big part in keeping the facility open over the years. In fact, with equipment and facility upgrades through WVEDA financing, Skana Aluminum has gone from 35 to 64 employees and more than doubled its production capacity.

The Clarksburg facility is one of Skana’s two locations, the other in Manitowoc City, Wisconsin. They bought the Wisconsin plant in 2010 and chose Clarksburg as their second location in 2012. Chairman and CEO, Tom Testwuide, says that the WVEDA has been a large part of their success over the years.

The now re-roll mill has been around since the 1950s. Originally a part of the natural gas industry, aluminum became its main purpose in 1989. Unfortunately, the plant was set to close down until the Skana team, with excess capacity on their Wisconsin hot mill, found out about the opportunity.

“When you buy a facility like this, especially coming from Wisconsin, to get financing would be very difficult,” Mr. Testwuide said. “It was amazing that West Virginia has this very smart program, which is lending money to local state businesses to help them retain the businesses and help them grow.”

When Mr. Testwuide and his team met the people some of which they would come to employ, they were thrilled. They describe the work ethic of their employees as “excellent.” Many of them are former coal miners who quickly acclimated to the aluminum industry.

One of the home-grown employees is Business Unit Manager, Patrick Echard. The Harrison County native knows the advantages of doing business in the area whether it’s access to the local workforce or geographical access to the East Coast’s major hubs.

“Geographically, we’re in a great position for all of our customers, we’re close enough to the East Coast and southeastern part of the country, it’s easy access,” Echard said. “We can bring in good quality employees… so our workforce has the ability to grow.”

After their experience in the state, Skana Aluminum is proud to say their product is made in the U.S.A. and made in West Virginia. They believe the programs West Virginia has to offer are not only good but world class.

I’ve had business in Canada, had a business in China, some in Brazil, I’ve never worked with a team that when I call on the phone within the day I’ll get a call back,” Teswuide said. “It’s something great that this state does, and I don’t know how many states have a program like this… they think like business people.”