The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

October 30, 2013

Ribbon-cutting celebrates company that’s ‘literally risen from the ashes’

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP — As the sun’s rays reflected brilliantly off Wendell August’s newly completed building, Gov. Tom Corbett told an audience Tuesday the weather was designed for the event.   

“It had to be this way,’’ Corbett said. “We’re celebrating a company clearly that has literally risen from the ashes.’’

Corbett was on hand for the formal unveiling of the metal giftware company’s $8 million complex. Devastated by an accidental fire on March 6, 2010, at its original Grove City location, the business built its new store, office and production center on Route 208 in Springfield Township with the help of a $4 million state grant.

Beginning construction in March, West Middlesex contractor Wessex Corp. was able to finish the job at a breakneck speed.

Traveling abroad to promote Pennsylvania, Corbett said he continually bestowed Wendell August merchandise to officials in Brazil, Chile and other countries to promote what Pennsylvania has to offer.

“You make memories that last a lifetime,’’ Corbett said.

Comprising 52,000 square feet, the building was a good investment for the state, he said, as it backed a private development.

“I believe it’s the business people who provide the jobs – not the government,’’ Corbett said.

A few moments later a snip of the scissors cut the ribbon marking the end of Wendell August’s long journey back from what could have been oblivion. Will Knecht, president and owner of the company, noted during the ceremony other locations tried to lure the business away from Mercer County.

Cheap land, cheap real estate and cheap buildings were all offered to entice the business away. But Knecht said he wanted to keep the business close to its Grove City roots. The company was founded by Wendell McMinn August, who moved the business to Grove City in 1932. The Knecht family bought the company in 1978.

“Our hearts will forever be in Grove City,’’ he said.

On hand for the event was George and Nancy Rodgers, owners of the Grove City Agway store. The couple said Wendell August has strong significance to the greater Grove City community. The Grove City factory was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places until it was destroyed.

“It’s kind of like they’re the mascot for the town,’’ George said.   

With the help of company workers and local officials, the company was able to resume production within five days of the fire at a temporary location and established its office at another site.   

Employing 110, Wendell August workers were on hand for the event to participate in the company’s re-emergence. In the days after the fire Adam Post, an employee in the dye cutting department, said he and others sifted in the debris to salvage what they could.

“It was like an archeological dig,’’ he said.

This isn’t just another building with no emotion attached to it, Post said. Rather, it was something that pulled the community together for a common goal.

“It’s a sense of belonging,’’ he added.

Producing goods such as Christmas ornaments, jewelry and purses, the company has steadily increased its product line to gain new niches in the giftware industry.

While it has no American competition, Wendell August has to compete with other businesses based in cheap labor countries of China and India. But Knecht said his company did have an edge against others.

“We’ll compete with the power of the American spirit,’’ he said.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014