Shepherd Snyder Published

Oldest Continuously Operating Manufacturing Plant In W.Va. Closes Doors

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Updated on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022 at 9:30 a.m.

The Halltown Paperboard Mill in Jefferson County quietly shut down last month, marking the closure of the oldest continuously operating manufacturing plant in West Virginia.

Jefferson County Development Authority Executive Director Dennis Jarvis confirmed the closing of the 153-year-old recycled paperboard plant. Jarvis says it accounts for a loss of around 70 manufacturing jobs in the county, though the exact number is unknown.

“They’re keeping a skeleton crew for the facility that makes sure that the machinery is maintained properly,” he said. “I think their intention is to look at potential reuse, redevelopment of the facility.”

The closure comes after a fire damaged the plant last June. A combination of the fire and other nationwide issues like labor shortage and supply chain disruption were cited as reasons for the plant’s closure.

“The economic condition for the company is one that we’re seeing throughout many sectors here in West Virginia, here in the panhandle,” Jarvis said. “So they had all that going against them prior to the fire.”

The authority is also helping some of the displaced workers land on their feet, noting they’ve helped five former workers of the plant land jobs at TeMa, a production facility for construction equipment in nearby Kearneysville.

Parent company Ox Industries will continue to use the physical building as a maintenance hub, with the building also housing the plant’s accounting team.

The Halltown Paperboard Mill recently celebrated its 150th year of business in 2019, having originally opened in 1869 as Eyster and Son. It was the oldest continuously operating plant in the state, though its total lifespan is predated by tool manufacturer Warwood Tool, which opened its doors in Martins Ferry, Ohio in 1854 before moving across the Ohio River to Wheeling in the early 1900s. The mill was acquired by Ox Industries in 2007.

Ox Industries did not respond to WVPB’s request for comment before the date of publication.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify the status of Halltown Paperboard Mill as the oldest, continuously operating industry in W.Va.