New assembly plant takes root
Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc. gave Mike Hill a chance to stay in West Virginia.
“I was born near Williamstown, where both sets of my grandparents lived,” said Hill. “After I earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, I came back. In July 1999, I started work for Fenton Art Glass as a project engineer. Eventually I became a quality control manager and supervised two production departments.”
In 2005, Fenton celebrated its 100th anniversary of creating handmade art glass. Yet, the largest manufacturer of handmade colored glass in the United States was struggling. In the summer of 2007, Fenton announced plans to close the plant by the end of the year. Mike and his fiancé, Farrah Colegrove, a West Virginia native, worried they would have to leave the area.
Then Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A., Inc., (HMMUSA) announced it would open a sequencing and final stage truck assembly plant in the former Walker Systems building in Williamstown. Hill applied, and in August 2007, began working for Hino as a quality specialist.
In September 2007, he and Farrah were wed.
Happily for Hill’s former co-workers, Williamstown and Fenton art glass devotees, a restructuring plan later that year and a surge of new orders reinvigorated the glass company. The Fenton factory and gift shop now remain open for business.