VSP sets up shop on Emerson Avenue

PARKERSBURG – Establishing a location in the Mid-Ohio Valley puts VSP Technologies in proximity to existing clients and potential new ones.

“This is a heavy industrialized region, so Parkersburg was really a good, centralized hub,” said Chris Morris, operations manager at VSP’s Ohio Valley Operations site at 5220 Emerson Ave.

Headquartered in Prince George, Va., VSP distributes and manufactures fluid-sealing products, such as gaskets, used by chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, oil refineries, power generation plants and the food and beverage industry. DuPont is among the company’s clients.

VSP has locations in Kingsport, Tenn., Houston and Virginia. Parkersburg will be its northernmost location, providing access to the Ohio Valley, West Virginia and the Northeast. Sites in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky and Louisiana also were being considered, according to a release from the company.

“We had some increased business in the Ohio Valley,” Morris said of the company’s selection of Parkersburg. “We picked up a multimillion-dollar contract with one of our biggest clients.”

And the region also is ripe with expansion opportunities.

“There’s just a lot of industry in our wheelhouse for the kind of products we provide, and services,” Morris said.

VSP set up shop in the former Richards Building Supply facility on Emerson Avenue with 1,500 square feet of office space and about 13,500 feet of warehouse area where products are stored and gaskets fabricated.

“The building’s definitely big enough to give us room to grow,” Morris said. “We are filling it up quite nicely.”

Four people are employed at the operation and Morris said he expects to hire at least one more in the next few months. Business demands will determine future hiring plans.

“I’m hoping that we can definitely create some jobs in the area through this location,” Morris said.

While VSP sells items from a variety of manufacturers, the company also employs engineers who develop products, which are manufactured in Virginia. In addition, VSP consults with clients on ways to solve problems and make their processes more efficient. That’s resulted in more than $80 million in cost-savings to customers since 2002, Morris said.

“We’re not just a supplier,” he said.

Morris began splitting his time between Virginia and Parkersburg in October to get the new location established. It was fully running in mid-January, but signage was only installed a couple of weeks ago due to the cold weather in recent months.

Morris has been with VSP a little more than three years, starting as an engineer. While he was eager to move into an operations manager position, he admits to some hesitation when he found out it would be in Parkersburg.

Looking at an Ohio Valley location, Morris was thinking more along the lines of Pittsburgh or Charleston. Not having been to the area before, he assumed Parkersburg was a very rural destination.

“It definitely took me by surprise,” he said. “I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do.”

Morris said he and his family found a new church home quickly and were welcomed by its members. He said he likes the way Parkersburg combines the appeal of a small town with the resources and opportunities of a larger location.

“Other than (a Target,) all the comforts we had in Virginia, we’ve got everything here,” Morris said with a laugh.