No word on fate of AB&C plant in Ranson

Government officials can't get explanation from company; workers meeting with unemployment officials

Government officials can't get explanation from company; workers meeting with unemployment officials

March 18, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - The reason behind the closing of AB&C Group remained a mystery Monday.

Government officials involved in economic development tried to get explanations and phone calls to the company went unanswered.

Jane Peters, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority, said she was waiting to hear from people who were waiting to hear from someone else.

Peters said she had lost contact with many of the officials at the Ranson, W.Va., plant and what information she was picking up Monday was mostly from people not associated with the plant.

Berkeley County Commissioner Bill Stubblefield said he had not heard from Berkeley County Development Authority executive director Steve Christian, so he assumed there was nothing to report.


Meanwhile, AB&C workers began meeting with state unemployment officials Monday to begin the process of obtaining unemployment compensation, said LaVern Armel, who worked in the Ranson AB&C facility. AB&C workers met with unemployment officials in a former General Motors plant building along W.Va. 9 west of Martinsburg where AB&C had been operating its Berkeley County facility, Armel said.

"There were so many of us. I know they had us in three different rooms," Armel said.

AB&C Group Inc. has handled bulk mailing for various companies over the years.

For some clients, AB&C mailed gifts and other items to client customers.

In some cases, client customers used toll free numbers to do business with organizations. The toll free numbers would ring into "call centers" operated by AB&C workers who help customers with transactions.

About 260 people worked at the Berkeley County facility and about 150 people worked at the Ranson facility off Fairfax Boulevard.

At the Ranson plant, workers were to receive paychecks Friday afternoon but were told they were not ready.

Later, workers were told that there was some bad news.

Workers were told there were some issues involving a request for Chapter 11 reorganization and that employees were to collect their personal belongings and clean out their desks, Armel said.

Employees were told to gather their belongings because they would not be able to get back in the building today, Armel said.

Workers at the Berkeley County plant faced the same situation, Peters said.

A sign posted on a door Sunday at the AB&C Group offices in Ranson said the facility was closed and that employees would be contacted as information becomes available.

Armel said it was "quite evident" people had lost their jobs.

Repeated attempts to reach company officials were unsuccessful Sunday and Monday. Calls to AB&C offices in Martinsburg, Ranson and Reston, Va., on Monday were either met with no answer or recordings.

Peters said the priority for the Jefferson County Development Authority will be trying to help AB&C workers find other jobs.

The development authority might help organize a job fair for the workers, Peters said.

Armel said workers are worried about making ends meet until they can get unemployment benefits started.

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