Mustang closing Wirt County facility

ELIZABETH- Mustang Survival will be consolidating all of its West Virginia operations to its facility in Spencer, thus closing down its Elizabeth plant.

Mustang officials were in Elizabeth recently informing Mustang associates of the plan.

After consideration of future operational needs, Mustang Survival has identified long-term business opportunities by transferring operations from Elizabeth to Spencer, a much larger facility with sufficient space to accommodate the Elizabeth operation, officials said in a press release.

All associates have been notified, and those employed in Elizabeth will be offered an opportunity to transfer to the Spencer site, the press release said.

“With the close proximity of the two locations, the operational efficiencies identified through consolidating processes were very compelling and supports our future business objectives,” said Jim Hartt, president of Mustang Survival.

Mustang Survival designs, develops, manufactures and markets aerospace and marine safety and survival equipment. Many products created for military use, security and rescue, professional and recreation are put together at the Elizabeth facility, formerly known as Wirt Inflatable Specialists, along W.Va. 14, and at its facility in the former Goodrich Building in Spencer.

Earlier this year Mustang was acquired by the Safariland Group, a manufacturer of protective products and equipment primarily for law enforcement and the military.

Talk had been going around the area the Elizabeth plant was shutting down.

Wirt County Commission President Bob Gunnoe and Elizabeth Mayor Penny McVay have both heard the talk but neither has received an official word from the company.

When told of the company plans, Gunnoe said it was not good news for their area, but he was glad the company was remaining in West Virginia.

“I am hoping that our people here will be able to go to work in Spencer,” he said.

McVay was hoping all the talk was just rumor and that it was not true. However, when she was told of the news she was concerned for the workers around the Elizabeth area who would end up making the lengthy drive to Spencer with gasoline prices as high as they are.

“That is a long drive for a lot of people,” she said. “It could hurt their budgets.”

McVay was also worried of the impact to the city and the school board.

“We will be losing taxes,” she said. “That is our only industry here.

“This is going to make a big difference in our budgets next year.”

Wirt County Assessor Debbie Hennen said the company paid around $41,000 in personal property taxes.

The county will lose around $11,800 in tax revenue, the Wirt County Board of Education will lose around $22,800 and the City of Elizabeth will lose around $7,100. State taxes will remain the same as the company is staying in West Virginia.

“The building itself will still be in their name and they will be paying taxes on it,” Hennen said.

Spencer Mayor Terry Williams said he understands how communities feel with the loss of businesses as he has experienced it himself a few times over his time as mayor, but he described the company’s choice as a “business decision” that would provide better management for them to have everything under one roof.

The decision easily could have been the other way, he said. Both facilities have employed residents of Wirt and Roane counties and he hopes many of the employees will be able to keep their jobs and make the commute to Spencer.

The company is using around 35,000-to-40,000 square feet of space in the Goodrich Building. There is around 100,000 square feet available.

“There is room for expansion,” Williams said.

Although the move will be difficult for some, Williams points out the company is remaining in the state.

“I am glad they will still be a part of West Virginia,” he said.