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Beri Fox

Marble King rolls with changing markets

Marble KingBeri Fox grew up playing with marbles. Her father Roger Howdyshell, who worked for and later owned marble manufacturer Marble King, let her and her siblings help pick the new marble colors.

Today, Fox serves as president of the marble manufacturing firm based in Paden City, W.Va.

“We manufacture close to a million glass marbles a day,” said Fox. “They go into many different areas, including children’s toys, decorative items in stained glass lamps and art, chemical processes to raise fluid levels and in industrial applications. At last count, Marble King exported to 17 countries worldwide.”

She picks up a can of spray paint and shakes it.

“Hear that rattle? They’re used as agitators in spray paint cans,” Fox said. “Most people think that’s a steel ball bearing in there, but it’s a glass marble. Steel corrodes and rusts; glass doesn’t.”

That kind of innovative market expansion has enabled Marble King to not only survive, but thrive. Years ago, 14 marble producers were based in West Virginia alone. Today, Marble King is one of only two marble factories known to operate in the entire U.S.

Marble King recently earned 
the distinguished "Made in USA Certification" that attests and confirms that all of its products are manufactured in America, as are all of the raw materials that go into these.

Fox is proud that the company still manufactures not only in America, but in West Virginia. Doing business in West Virginia offers several advantages, she said. One is access to raw materials.

“We estimate that 90 to 95 percent of the marbles we manufacture today are made by using recycled glass,” she said. “We’re saving at least 4-and-a-half tons of glass per day from going into a landfill.”

The state provides a stable business climate, she said. West Virginia is currently one of only a handful of states with a balanced budget and no debt to the federal government for unemployment compensation loans.

West Virginia assistance programs equip businesses with the support, encouragement and direction they need to succeed.

“We worked with the West Virginia Development Office to develop both our international trade and domestic new business opportunities,” Fox said. “As our market areas diversify from children’s toys to more industrial, we have had to meet more technical criteria. In those applications, the marbles don’t have to be pretty; they have to have a specific density and specific weight. The marble business has changed dramatically. In that transition, the Governor’s Guaranteed WorkForce has been a huge help with training our employees.”

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