Learn about the National Mining Association (NMA)
The National Mining Association (NMA) is the official voice of the American mining industry in Washington, D.C
NMA's mission is to create and maintain a broad base of political support for the mining industry and to help the nation realize the economic and national security benefits of America's domestic mining capability.
Read the State Journal
The State Journal is the premier business publication in West Virginia. It is chock full of current economic, social, and political information that is sure to be interesting, entertaining, and useful.
Click on links below to hear Walker's radio ads.
Ads, brochures and signs
Walker's Latest Lube Truck
Agency launches shale gas campaign
by George Hohmann
Daily Mail Business Editor
July 24, 2012
From left: Walker Machinery Company's Management Trainees Jeremy Schulte and Jacob Morris attended a press conference, July 24, at Walker Machinery Co.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy has launched "Shale Works for US," a campaign "to galvanize support" for the shale gas industry, said Karen Harbert, the institute's president and chief executive officer.
Harbert launched the campaign Tuesday at a press conference at Walker Machinery Co.'s training center in Belle.
"The prospect for energy self-reliance is before us — if we allow it," Harbert said. "In 2000, shale gas represented 2 percent of our natural gas production. In 2011, it was 34 percent. In 2015 it will be an estimated 43 percent."
Natural gas produced from shale formations in the United States "can put the community, put teachers back to work," Harbert said. "At West Virginia University, the unemployment rate for those with graduate degrees in geology is zero. That's a great story."
Walter Clark, general manager of Walker Machinery Co.'s equipment rental stores, said the company has a store in Parkersburg and is considering opening another on the Ohio River to serve the companies that work in the natural gas industry.
Walker Machinery has historically sold, serviced and rented heavy equipment mainly to the coal industry. Monty Boyd bought the Caterpillar equipment dealer in 2010. Walker currently has about 700 employees. The company has eight locations in West Virginia and one in Ohio.
In an interview in March, Boyd said Walker will continue to rely on the coal industry for a majority of its sales. But to help the company ride out the coal industry's ups and downs, Walker will pursue opportunities with businesses involved in the natural gas-rich shales, he said.
Boyd said those opportunities include:
Rebuilding the large diesel and natural gas-fired engines that transmission companies use to move natural gas through pipelines.
Selling earth-moving equipment to companies that build drilling pads.
Selling equipment to build roads in remote areas, to clear rights of way and to lay pipelines.
Boyd said in March — and Clark repeated on Tuesday — that by diversifying, Walker can retain its highly trained employees.
David Knuth, executive director of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce, said at Tuesday's press conference there are seven pipeline companies currently operating in Marshall County.
"We have an abundance of employees from other states - from as far away as Oregon," he said. The influx of people is so great there aren't any available places to stay, he said. Property owners can rent a space for a 35-foot camper and a pickup truck for $800 a month, he said.
Several factories are under construction in the county that will separate ethane from natural gas. "Some of this gas, after it is separated, will end up possibly out of state," Knuth said. "We would like to have the plants that are using this gas, rather than seeing it sent away. This is our challenge now."
Meanwhile, businesses that provide food and shelter, machinery and rental property are doing well. The shale gas drilling business "is quite a breath of fresh air for our county," Knuth said.
The "Shale Works for US" campaign is one of several aimed at improving the public image of the natural gas industry:
In 2007 the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association launched "Energize West Virginia with Natural Gas."
In 2011 an alliance supported by the West Virginia Petroleum Council, a division of the American Petroleum Institute, and the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia launched "Just Beneath the Surface."
The mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy is "to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous and clean."
Ninth Annual Friends of Coal Auto Fair Wraps Up
By Wendy Holdren Register-Herald Reporter
July 23, 2012
From left: Walker Machinery's Executive V.P. and District Manager James Milam
attended the 9th Annual Friends of Coal Auto Fair, in Beckley, July 21 and 22.
BECKLEY — The 9th Annual Friends of Coal Auto Fair wrapped up Sunday, bringing in over 600 cars and thousands of patrons to southern West Virginia.
Friday’s schedule of events at the auto fair got a bit of a damp start, but Jay Rist, CEO of the Beckley-Raleigh County YMCA, said the crowd got to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Stella Parton performed at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Sports Complex Friday evening, while automobiles took advantage of the cruise-in to uptown Beckley.
Jabberwocky and the Old School Hall Band rocked uptown Beckley, then everyone was invited back to the showgrounds to watch the Disney-Pixar animated movie “Cars” and a fireworks show right afterward.
Saturday was “Coal Miner’s Day” and a mine safety competition was held bright and early.
Alpha Natural Resources brought their furry friend Ginny to greet everyone at the auto fair and later that evening, the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the “Golden Knights,” dropped in just in time for the big show.
Rist said Saturday night’s concert was truly a treat for Beckley, as Ronnie Dunn and James Wesley performed for a huge crowd.
Awards were distributed Sunday and a church service was held on the final day of the auto fair.
“It’s always tough to battle the elements, but our grounds crew and volunteers did a great job of remedying the muddy areas during the rain,” Rist said.
“The 9th Annual Friends of Coal Auto Fair was an overall successful event for the weekend. I hope this turned out to be a great fundraiser.”
Rist said planning is already under way for the 10th annual event.
Mining supporters head to D.C.
By Matt Murphy
For the Daily Mail
June 20, 2012
Photo by Marcus Constantino
WASHINGTON - They're concerned about jobs. They're concerned about providing for their families. They're concerned about the future of coal mining in West Virginia.
They're concerned enough to make a one-day trip on a bus from Logan to Washington, D.C., to meet with Sen. Joe Manchin to voice their support for a bill that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing its new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards Rule, which is scheduled for a vote today.
(UPDATE: Senators voted 46-53 vote against Sen. James Inhofe's (R-Okla.) resolution.)
The 45 coal miners, family members and supporters who made the trek on Tuesday were all from southern West Virginia - specifically Boone, Logan and Mingo counties - some of the top coal-producing counties in the state.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce sponsored the transportation, and the miners and coal supporters who traveled were volunteers.
Some miners are retired, some remain employed and others have been laid off, but their support for the coal industry ties them, their families and other supporters together.
"When you come face-to-face with (legislators) and they see you, they are conscious (of the group's opinion)," said Dennis Adkins, a retired coal miner, Citizens for Coal member and a trip leader. "That's the purpose of the trip, and we want them to represent us."
Nearly everyone on the Washington journey wore a small "Friends of Coal" pin, and many wore coal-related clothing, with pro-coal messages written on the back.
As the bus traversed West Virginia's rugged southern mountains into the flatter Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, conversation ranged from family to jokes to personal backgrounds, but seemed to continue to revert back to coal. Many of the travelers knew one another from the mines or from other coal-related activities.
This 756-mile trip stemmed from the miners' concern over the Utility MACT rule, which from the EPA's standpoint, is targeted at reducing emissions, particularly mercury, from power plants nationwide.
According to the Congressional Research Service's report on the subject, the EPA estimates that with the rule, 11,000 premature deaths would be averted because of the rule, and other ailments, like asthma and developmental effects in children, would also be avoided.
The rule would require power plants to operate cleaner and reduce the amount of toxic compounds released into the atmosphere within three years (although in certain cases, an additional two-year extension may be granted). The report states that 56 percent of currently operating coal-fired power plants already have installed equipment that would meet the new requirements; thus, the rule is targeted at those plants which have not yet installed the equipment.
The EPA itself has estimated that the rule will have an estimated cost of $9.6 billion in 2015, making it one of the most costly EPA regulations ever. That cost would likely be transferred to consumers, causing electricity rates to rise in some areas.
From the miners' perspective, the rule is another part of what has been referred to as President Barack Obama's "War on Coal." The miners and the industry argue that such regulations are aimed at chipping away at the coal industry and coal-produced electricity. For the rest of the story and to watch a video, click here.
We're right on track
by George Hohmann
Daily Mail Business Editor
March 29, 2012 Charleston Daily Mail
Technician Kenny Houston of Sissonville talks to Monty Boyd, who bought Walker Machinery two years ago. Boyd is visiting every Walker location to talk with employees.
Two years since Monty Boyd bought the locally rooted Cecil I. Walker Machinery Co., he says the company remains on target for success.
"We're right on track, where we wanted to be," Boyd said.
"I'm pleased with our progress," he said in an interview. "We're ahead of my expectations."
When Boyd bought the Caterpillar equipment dealer headquartered in Belle on March 31, 2010, some of Walker's employees were anxious.
"They had concerns because Walker had been a long-established business and they wondered what was going to change," Boyd said. "Our message was, 'Nothing!' We would continue to service and support our customers like Walker. We wanted to maintain and grow our employee base and continue to provide a high level of service to customers. Those were our goals.
"We've done exactly what we said. The customer feedback we get is the level of customer satisfaction has increased."
Walker sells, services and rents Caterpillar machinery in western West Virginia and southeastern Ohio. The only change in locations to occur since Boyd bought Walker was the November 2011 closure of the company's store in Athens, Ohio.
Tim McLean, Walker's vice president of operations, said the Athens store, which rented equipment, was opened about five years ago so the company would have an outlet near American Electric Power's power plants along the Ohio River. Many of those plants were undergoing environmental upgrades.
The decision to close the Athens store occurred when the power company construction business diminished. All three employees remained with Walker and were transferred to other locations, McLean said.
Walker currently has eight locations in West Virginia and one in Ohio. Plans are underway to expand the company's Huntington office, McLean said. Walker had just over 600 employees when Boyd bought it. Today, it has just over 700.
Boyd also owns Whayne Supply Co., which is headquartered in Louisville, Ky. Whayne is the Caterpillar dealer in 120 counties in Kentucky and 16 counties across southern Indiana. Whayne has grown from just under 1,300 employees in 2010 to about 1,400 today.
"We certainly saw some improvement in business last year over 2010," Boyd said. "That's why there has been an increase in the number of employees."
Walker has always relied on the coal industry for a majority of its sales. That will not change, Boyd said. But to help Walker ride out the coal industry's ups and downs, Boyd is diversifying the company's customer base, primarily by pursuing opportunities with businesses involved in the natural gas-rich Marcellus and Utica shales. Those opportunities include:
• Rebuilding the large diesel and natural gas-fired engines that transmission companies use to move natural gas through pipelines.
• Selling earth-moving equipment to companies that build drilling pads.
• Selling equipment to build roads in remote areas, to clear rights of way and to lay pipelines.
By diversifying, Walker can retain its highly trained employees and constantly be poised to respond to the coal industry's needs, Boyd said.
Demand for steam coal, used to generate electricity, has weakened in recent months because of the mild winter. Also, some power plants are switching from coal to natural gas because natural gas is cheap.
Meanwhile, demand for metallurgical coal, used to make steel, also has slackened.
"We've seen some major economies soften," Boyd said. "But I believe we will see a little bit of an increase - China is starting to pull back on some of their restrictions. I think we'll see a little faster growth in China and India.
"The uncertainty that's out there puts the same uncertainty in our business," he said. "As a business that serves the coal industry, we have to have the equipment available when there's an upswing. When the market starts to soften, we have to adjust inventory levels. As a distributor to the industry, we certainly look at our inventory levels and employment levels. We're trying to maintain employee levels to meet the demand when the demand begins to increase.
"Our employees are highly trained and skilled so it is a challenge when business takes off to ramp up to that level of skills that are needed to perform.
"I'm very impressed with the abilities, the skill level of our employees," Boyd said. "We have a great group of very talented people at the company. They exceeded the level of expectation on my part."
Many of Walker's key employees are diesel technicians. "They have to have a high level of understanding of computer systems, electrical systems, hydraulic and mechanical systems, in order to diagnose problems with our machines and make the correct repairs," Boyd said.
"The machines appear to be large pieces of iron, but the products we sell are very sophisticated, complex pieces of equipment.
"Even during slower economic times we continue to have a full group of full-time training instructors to continue to train our employees, to keep them at the skill level we need."
McLean said, "In West Virginia in our industry, the solution for us has been and will be the community college system. The community colleges have wrapped their arms around what the industries in this state need and are aligning their curriculums to match our needs."
Boyd said, "We work closely with them."
McLean said, "And we support them. We contribute financial aid to students to attend those programs."
Boyd said the highest number of job openings in the company is for diesel technicians. In addition to trying to recruit top talent, "we try to promote and advance people within our organization," he said.
Boyd is an example of that kind of success. Right out of school, he worked for Caterpillar for 10 years and "then decided to make a career change and went to work for a dealer, Whayne Supply Co. I worked for them for 25 years. I worked my way up the organization and became president of the company."
"The Whayne family was transitioning to the third generation, and the third generation elected to sell the company," Boyd said. "I acquired the company at the end of 2008. In the middle of 2009, the people at Caterpillar asked me to consider the purchase of Walker.
"I tell employees quite often I pinch myself as I wake up and realize the opportunities I've been given to grow and advance."
Boyd operates Whayne Supply and Walker Machinery as separate businesses. Asked why, he said, "If you mention Caterpillar in West Virginia, the next word mentioned is Walker. In Kentucky and Indiana when you mention Caterpillar, the next mention is Whayne Supply. I think that brand, that reputation of serving customers is the value. I think it would be a major business mistake to eliminate that brand."
Although they are operated as separate businesses, "there are some Walker employees with dual responsibilities and some Whayne employees with responsibilities for both organizations. We look at the employees who have the skills and talents, who are going to do the best. They are two sister companies working to make each other a better organization."
Boyd spent several days last week and this week meeting with employees at every Walker location. At the end of each meeting there was time for questions and answers.
Asked what he's hearing at the meetings, Boyd said, "In any ownership transition there's tremendous uncertainty, almost to the level of anxiety, about what would occur with the company. Would they be employed? Was the company going to change names? Now, two years later, employees have a better sense of the company's direction. I think their trust and confidence in the company going forward was very apparent in these meetings.
"I think our employees are seeing our company invest in our facilities. We're making a major investment in our operating system. It's one of the largest investments that either company has made in a long time - quite honestly, in either company's history.
"It will be implemented over the next 18 to 24 months, starting with human resources, then finance and accounting, and will then move into some of the operational areas. We've already chosen the vendor and have begun the work. I think they're seeing this investment is very positive."
In 2009, Walker and the Walker family's foundation were together making charitable contributions of $300,000 to $400,000 a year. Steve Walker said at the time, "We give to a lot of local schools. We're in every yearbook. We try to do it where our employees are."
Boyd was asked about the company's charitable giving now.
"As part of our company's mission statement, we want to support our communities," he said. "I think it's very important for us to be a good corporate citizen. We support our communities where our employees live and work. We want to support those (charities) that our employees also are involved in.
"I don't know that I support just putting our name out on a front banner. We especially want to support educational institutions that provide education hopefully for future employees. There are a lot of individuals out there in great need - we want to support those areas also. It is more than dollars. Sometimes it's the use of equipment. Sometimes it's manpower. We put a significant amount of equipment out in Logan, trying to help people recover from the flooding."
As the owner of two Caterpillar dealerships, Boyd was asked if he would consider buying a third.
"It's a rare occurrence for someone to be afforded the opportunity of one Cat dealership, let alone two in the time we accomplished that," he said. "We're looking at any opportunities for growth. If the opportunity presented itself for another, I would consider it, but I'm not out actively looking. I have plenty to do."
Photo credit: Craig Cunningham
Monty Boyd, owner of two Caterpillar dealerships, the Cecil I. Walker Machinery Co. and Whayne Supply Co., stands in the equipment yard at Walker Express - The Cat Rental Store in Nitro.
Vintage Walker Television Commercials (Thank you Roger Lilly)