WEIRTON - Weirton's newest neighbor, light manufacturing company and distribution center Rig Packaging, continues to be a driving force behind discussions in the local area.
Dan Repischak, vice president of manufacturing and converting for ITW Metals Group and director of operations for Rig Packaging, spoke to the Rotary Club of Weirton recently regarding the new company and some history of how Rig Packaging came to the city.
Repischak, who earned a business degree from the University of Wisconsin, began his career by designing protective packaging for metals. He said he saw it as a growing market and pursued the endeavor.
Even though things got off to a rough start after creating Repischak Industrial Group in 1996, over the years, he said, the company has changed and grown to fit the market and what was needed by improving products, offering custom-made products, expanding services to include major distribution and updating plant operations.
"We found a niche market and worked with it," he said.
In November, requests were made for the property located at 243 Three Springs Drive to be rezoned from C-2 Regional Commercial to PDD Planned Development District in order to move a light industrial company into the former Wal-Mart building.
Rig Packaging, which now belongs to ITW Metals Group whose largest area customer is ArcelorMittal Weirton, produces protective coverings for steel coils.
Although he is no longer the company's owner, ITW Metals Group has hired Repischak to run the local company. He said the company was looking for a place large enough to suit the light manufacturing housing requirements, and the Wal-Mart property seemed to be the right spot. With the headquarters currently based in Carnegie, Pa. and a sister company in Wellsburg, Repischak stated bringing Rig Packaging to Weirton will retain the jobs in Wellsburg and allow that current building to be utilized for another use, retain several jobs from the Carnegie location and create 25 to 40 local jobs with starting pay from $10 to $12 an hour, plus benefits.
Area development officials said the circumstances fell perfectly into place for the company to make its move.
"If you look at when a Wal-Mart leaves a store for a new SuperCenter anywhere in West Virginia or Pennsylvania or Ohio, you'll see that the existing store can stay empty for years. It takes a unique individual situation in the community to reduce the amount of time that the store will remain vacant. Weirton was fortunate that it wasn't even a year that the store stayed vacant. We are blessed," said Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle.
Repischak said he is excited to bring the operation to Weirton. There are many hard-working, loyal employees who seem to be grateful for the opportunity to work for the company, he said. Within the next 30 days, he added, Rig Packaging will be fully operational.