WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. -- Fenton Art Glass Co.'s new owner is looking to revive the century-old West Virginia specialty glassmaker.
Last month, the West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust provided $100,000 to The Fenton Group to help the company resume production of art glass. The money will be used for operating capital, marketing and advertising support.
"The funds will be used to reinvigorate Fenton's factory operations and refresh its marketing efforts," state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel (http://bit.ly/10pA5Pe). "Fenton Art Glass has been a fixture in Wood County since 1905. In addition to the direct jobs that supported the employees and their families, the company had been a tourist destination, attracting visitors to the community and to the state."
The Williamstown company's former owners, the Fenton family, stopped production of art glass in 2011 after struggling for several years with rising costs and declining sales. The family had operated the company for four generations before The Fenton Group, doing business as US Glass Inc., acquired its assets last year.
US Glass Chief Executive Officer Gene Bem said the company plans to hire a management team and hopes to bring back former workers. The company hopes to begin the hiring process in May.
"The intention is to revitalize the American glass art craft as well as maintain and rejuvenate the local industrial community," Bem said. "The Fenton Group looks to re-introduce the legacy of the Fenton Art Glass Co., appealing to the growing number of metropolitan consumers while maintaining Fenton Art Glass' historical glassmaking traditions and its American-made brand."
Andrew Zulaf, executive director of the jobs investment trust, said trust officials believe that the company's new business model and management team will enable it to compete nationally and globally and will revitalize the local area.