90 Years of Supporting McDowell County Families
It's rare in today's world of commerce for anyone to hold a job for 50 years. It not only takes a committed employee, it takes a business that is committed to the community, its product, and its family of employees. In a proud moment on Saturday, September 28, 2019 Lester Welch, WestRock's longest serving employee, cut the ribbon to commemorate the company's 90th anniversary of business in McDowell County.
WestRock Marion began operations in 1929 as Etta Paper Box Company and was founded by local businessmen including Jay French Wilkinson and Crawford James. Through the years (1929-2015) it continued to provide employment to McDowell families under different ownerships including Etta Packaging, Laird Packaging, Resolution Packaging, and RockTenn.
In 2015, the Georgia-based producer of specialty packaging products for numerous industries in the United States and beyond, merged with MeadWestVaco to form WestRock, moving from its historic downtown location to the old Swift Galey building on Hwy. 70. The company invested in new machinery, made major upgrades, and added 100 new jobs.
County and city officials turned out in force at the company's family-style celebration at Tom Johnson's Camping World, where approximately 300 employees and their families enjoyed the day. Mayor Steven Little presented an official proclamation in honor of the company's investment and dedication to the growth and economic vitality of the county. "The City of Marion wishes to recognize and congratulate WestRock Marion on its 90th Anniversary, a remarkable achievement given all of the economic changes that have taken place locally, across our nation, and throughout the world during that time." He went further to declare that Saturday, September 28, 2019 as "WestRock Marion Day" in the City of Marion.
"I encourage all citizens to join the City of Marion in thanking WestRock Marion for their vital role in serving as an economic anchor in our community and in wishing [them] continued success in the future," he said. Other dignitaries including McDowell Economic Director Chuck Abernathy, Commissioner Chairman David Walker, and Chamber Director Steve Bush were also in attendance.
"It's important to recognize the significance of WestRock's impact not only on our economy but on our community," Bush said. "For 90 years this company has provided viable incomes to the families that make up the fabric and character of our community. It's quite an achievement to operate successfully in a rural community for that length of time."
WestRock operates under the values of Integrity, Respect, Accountability, and Excellence. Through its WestRock Foundation, the company can invest in the communities they operate through grants. It also has an Employee Relief Fund that steps up with financial assistance to team members who suffer hardship because of a natural or man-made disaster. In 2018, the Fund provided more than $1.1 million to more than 400 team members who experienced financial hardship from a hurricane, flood, or home fire.
"We want everyone who works at WestRock or does business with us to feel welcome ... As we work with one another, our customers and external partners, please know that our words and actions, in big ways and small, make a difference to those around us. This knowledge, accompanied by our considered actions, will make us a better company," said Steve Voorhees, chief executive officer, WestRock