Bidell shipment a positive sign

A flatbed tractor-trailer heading down Main Street with the output of the hard work of local hands is not an unusual site in Weirton, where drivers are used to following steel coils around.

What moved through the city Feb. 19 was not only unusual but worthy of note.

A truck carrying the first shipment of goods from the Bidell Gas Compression facility that occupies what was the former Weirton steel mill machine shop headed out for delivery into the region’s growing natural gas industry.

Bidell spent more than $3 million refurbishing and repurposing the former machine shop and has about 45 employees now.

The firm is a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, Total Energy Services Inc., and made its U.S. headquarters in Weirton. Full operations began in October at the facility, following nearly a year of work on the former machine shop,

The gigantic unit that made its way down Main Street and onto U.S. Route 22 was part of a gas compressor unit, one of three being shipped after being refurbished at Weirton. The units were built four years ago for another company in Oklahoma’s oil fields. They were converted and rebuilt at Bidell Weirton. The massive scale of the units requires them to be assembled, then dismantled for shipping and reassembled on site. Each of the compressor units, including massive Caterpillar engines, takes three truckloads.

The shipments from Bidell are a visible sign that the work of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle continues to service the development of the region’s economy. The BDC worked with Bidell on securing the 100,000-square-foot machine shop.

The really good news is that Bidell continues to receive fabrication orders and continues to work with the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center, West Virginia Northern Community College, the Robert C. Byrd Institute and the state of West Virginia to train and develop its work force locally.

These kinds of workplaces are the new foundation blocks of a solid regional economy. We hope to see trucks carrying gigantic devices through Weirton for years into the future.