Fenton glass company to close production
Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 22:07
The Fenton Art Glass Company has announced it will be shutting down production of hand-blown glass products within the next few months.
Fenton Glass, which is located in Williamsburg, W.Va., has been experiencing financial woes since 2007 when they first considered shutting down.
Now, four years later, the company has made the decision to cease production of glass at their 106-year-old factory.
"The market for our pressed and blown glassware has diminished. We cannot sustain the overhead costs," said Fenton Glass President George Fenton.
Since Fenton Glass has been such a crucial part of Williamsburg, local citizens have expressed confusion and are upset by its imminent closing.
It is expected that most of Fenton Glass Company's employees will lose their jobs when the main furnace of the factory closes in the coming months.
"Our employees have worked hard and efficiently, so this is a very sad day for us," Fenton said.
The closing of the Fenton Art Glass Company has made the community of Williamsburg and surrounding areas curious as to what will happen to the town after the closing of one of the towns' biggest employer.
"Many of the workers, if not all, are very skilled at what they do, and sadly, they may be forced to leave the area to find work that fits their skills," said Jeffery Blaker, a resident of Williamsburg.
In addition to losing workers, Blaker said he is afraid Williamsburg is losing its main tourist attraction and thus important tourist money.
"Because of the nature of Fenton's business, the economy will also lose tourism dollars," he said.
Fenton Glass has grown since almost calling it quits in 2007, but in the face of a declining economy and increasing corporate competition, family-owned Fenton Glass has continued to struggle.
To try to stay in business, the company has laid off workers multiple times since 2007.
Currently, the company is looking into the possibility of selling some of its product lines.
The company has not made clear what plans they have for the Fenton Gift Shop, which is separate from Fenton Glass.
For now, the shop will continue to sell the remaining Fenton Glass inventory.
"Remaining employees will be finishing existing glassware from the company's inventory that will be available through the Fenton Gift Shop as well as the company's website and Fenton dealers across the country," Fenton said.
Of the gift shop's inventory, 90 percent currently comes from Fenton Glass.
Fenton Glass began as a company in 1905 and has been located in Williamstown since 1906.
The company began making its own glass in 1907 and has continued to for over one hundred years.