Pietro Fiorentini breaks ground on Weirton factory
WEIRTON — With the flags of the United States, Italy, the State of West Virginia and the City of Weirton behind them, local and state government and development officials, representatives of Pietro Fiorentini and several guests ceremonially broke ground Friday for the company’s new facility in Weirton.
Representative of a $5.5 million investment, with plans to open by the spring of 2018, this will be Italy-based Pietro Fiorentini’s first permanent manufacturing operation in the United States. It is expected to have up to 45 jobs upon the completion of its first phase, with up to 77 additional jobs in future phases. Currently, 19 are employed locally by the company.
According to David Watkins, president of Pietro Fiorentini USA, it has been a five-year process to bring the new factory to Weirton, with initial meetings taking place in 2012. He noted natural gas prices, along with the business environment, support from government officials and the location all played into the company’s decision to locate in Weirton.
Another factor, he said, was the local labor force, with its industrial background.
“My family is from West Virginia. I grew up understanding the importance of hard work,” Watkins said.
Pietro Fiorentini Vice President Sergio Trevisan agreed, saying the support from the city of Weirton and the state of West Virginia, as well as state-provided incentives, the labor force and available training opportunities were a key in the company’s decision to locate to the Ohio Valley.
“We come from a similar area,” he said. “We have the same DNA.”
Educational opportunities for the employees also will be a factor, Trevisan said, noting the company’s plans to work with local colleges to provide continual training.
“We believe it’s the key to guaranteeing a better future for our company and our employees,” Trevisan said.
Pietro Fiorentini manufactures pressure regulators and valves, as well as pressure reducing and metering systems for the natural gas industry.
Trevisan noted the company will operate three production lines, with plans for a new line to be added for a product specific to the U.S. market.
Many on hand Friday reflected on the teamwork needed to make the project possible, with the City of Weirton, West Virginia Development Office, West Virginia Department of Commerce, Brooke County Commission, Business Development Corp., Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission and the offices of U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., among those involved. Funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Economic Development Administration also was involved.
Patrick Ford, executive director of the BDC, was among local dignitaries welcoming the company to Weirton on Friday.
“We are here today, not celebrating a new prospect in Weirton,” Ford said. “We’re celebrating a new friend.”
Ford also applauded the efforts of the City of Weirton to better streamline its own development operations in recent years, which he said has assisted in the creation of 500 jobs and investments of $25 million.
This is the second major announcement this year by an international manufacturer with plans to locate in Weirton.
Mayor Harold Miller said it is important to remember the past, while looking toward the future, and Pietro Fiorentini will help to provide jobs of the future while improving the quality of life in the community.
“The city of Weirton is beginning to lead the Ohio Valley in the number of jobs created,” Miller said, saying it is important to never doubt a community’s ability to compete.
Kris Hopkins, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office, also noted the competitive nature of bringing Pietro Fiorentini to Weirton.
Company officials have said they also considered locations in Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada for the operation.
“It’s a real testament to the strategic advantages of West Virginia,” Hopkins said.
Brooke County Commissioner Tim Ennis also was on hand, calling it “a great day for Brooke County and the City of Weirton.”
Pietro Fiorentini has been operating out of a rental space in Wheeling since 2013. The company also has a sales office and a distributorship in the United States. The Weirton facility will be constructed on 26.4 acres of land located in the Three Springs Business Park.