30-year-old Weavertown Group sees hiring spurt due to Marcellus drilling demands

Posted August 15, 2011

By Michael Bradwell, Business editor

CECIL - When Dawn Fuchs' father, Donald Fuchs, started Weavertown Trucking 30 years ago this month, he was one man with one truck and $7,500 in start-up money.

On Weavertown's 30th anniversary last Wednesday, Dawn, who is chief executive officer of Weavertown Environmental Group, can see a major coincidence between one of the first items her father was hauling - a refractory to help oil well producers in Ohio increase production - and the sister industry that is helping to drive WEG and its subsidiaries to new heights in 2011.

Dawn said the company finds itself providing its services to natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale, whose demands are so acute that she finds herself scrambling on a daily basis to keep up.

"Do you know where we can get 60 workers?" she says jokingly at the outset of an interview in the offices of Weavertown Transport Leasing along Route 50.

But several minutes later, in all seriousness, she acknowledges that the company is actually preparing to add a total of 65 people to work as technicians and in the field to handle the work the company's been getting from the natural gas industry here.

It's all part of an ongoing evolution of a company that used trucking to branch into a variety of related businesses that puts its Weavertown Environmental Group at the core, handling the hauling of water to drill sites, providing emergency services and safety training.

The company also provides the same services to all types of industry, being one of the first on scene to provide spill cleanups when trucks overturn on area highways or simply to help right a truck, salvage its cargo and get it on the road again. Other industrial services include engineering, site remediation, air quality services and storage tank management.

The company moved its corporate offices to Carnegie several years ago after it purchased Petroclean, another environmental services company, but continues to maintain about 50 percent of its business operations in Washington County.

"WEG continues to grow," Dawn said, noting that the company has seen a 35 percent jump in new business development over the past two years.

In addition to hauling water to drill sites, WEG also assists drillers in taking proactive measures at the well sites, including providing safety training for many workers, she said. It also opened an office in Williamsport last year to provide similar services to companies working in the Marcellus in the northern part of Pennsylvania.

Outside of the Marcellus Shale region, WEG also provides services through regional offices in East Liverpool, Ohio, to provide barge and rail car cleaning service; Ashland, Ky., to serve the refining industry; and will soon open another office in the Akron/Canton, Ohio, area to serve industrial clients there.

Today, WEG, which has 140 employees, is one of the largest environmental service providers in Western Pennsylvania, and is licensed to haul both hazardous and nonhazardous material in all 50 states.

Another 60 people work in the company's towing division, where last year, it received a contract to provide towing services on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between New Stanton and Somerset. The towing division, which is permitted by AAA, is the region's largest as measured by the volume of calls it receives.

In addition to towing and hauling, the company also provides a number of other services, including a full line of truck and car repairs at its Cecil site, and a heating oil supply business.

According to Dawn, its A-1 Supply unit, which provides gravel and landscaping materials, has seen "extreme growth" over the past couple of years, primarily because of the gravel and other aggregates it sells to gas drilling companies for use at drilling sites.

One aspect of the business that has changed drastically since Donald Fuchs started his drives to the Ohio oil fields is the fiscal management that comes with purchasing and maintaining an ever-growing fleet of trucks and other equipment, Dawn said.

"You have to run a top-notch shop and pay constant attention to your balance sheet," she said.

The other major challenge is meeting the gas industry's continually growing demands, which has put Weavertown in its biggest hiring mode.

"We're looking to add 65 people - technicians and field personnel" as the company steps up its services for the gas drilling companies, she said.

The staff additions will put Weavertown at its highest employment numbers in the history of the company, she added.

Finding the right employees, while always a challenge to any company, is even more daunting for Weavertown because of its 24/7 orientation, she said.

"We're committed to building the right team," she said, adding that Weavertown has always positioned itself as "a company people come to when they don't know where else to go. We find a solution for them. We do the job we have to do to get the job done for our clients. It's what we all sign up for here."

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