Oil and Gas Industry Still Good for Businesses

Photo by Shelly Hanson Dean Barath, owner of Ideal Provisions, puts up the menu on his food truck in Bridgeport. He says the oil and gas industry has been a boon to his business.

Opinions vary regarding the impact of the natural gas drilling industry on the region, but when it comes to local businesses it has been positive for many.

Attic Pickers owner Denise Wycherley said she has noticed in an increase of oil and gas workers coming into her Bridgeport store during the past year or so.

“I get the gas and oil workers especially if they have a day off. The guys will come in, but if their wives or girlfriends come into town they bring them here and they shop on the weekends and whatever day they have off,” she said.

She said the workers usually buy collectibles to send back to their home states.

“They like a lot of the local history. They buy a lot of the coal mining items and things from Wheeling or Bridgeport. It’s almost like a souvenir, I guess,” she said.

Wycherley said the influx of business has positively impacted her bottom line. And the oil and gas workers enjoy shopping there, she noted.

“They do, they spend their money,” she said. “And also because they are here, people who have rental properties come and buy furniture. So it’s like a full circle kind of thing.”

Like many Ohio Valley residents Wycherley said she, too, is curious as to when, or if, the proposed ethane cracker plant will be built in the Dilles Bottom area, south of Shadyside. Officials with PTT Global say they are still considering whether to build the plant, which recently has had two different permits approved related to air and water pollution discharges. Officials have estimated building the plant would be a multi-billion dollar investment.

For Ideal Provisions owner Dean Barath, the many “frackers” who frequent his mobile food truck has been a boon for his business. Barath said one of his favorite spots to set up is at the bottom of U.S. 250 in Bridgeport.

Barath said many of the industry’s workers will stop for lunch and dinner at the spot to refuel with his famous “dirty fries” or other dishes he sells from the black-painted truck. He said some of the vinegar-based sauces he uses are a favorite of some of the southern-based workers.

He said there was one day that he made about $1,500 in a three-hour period selling food to the hungry oil and gas workers. He also goes to companies’ staging areas to serve food.

ICR Equipment Rental, Sales & Supply of Bellaire and St. Clairsville also has felt the impact over the years and continues to today. ICR Manager Ashley Ware said the local oil and gas trade has kept the stores extra busy and demand has increased for more products.

“We’ve been adding more heavier rental equipment because of the oil and gas stuff. We’re opening a fastener distributor and we deliver them,” she said. “We’ve been growing a lot because of the coal mines and oil and gas.”

The company already offers apparel at its St. Clairsville store, which opened in 2016, but plans to sell even more workwear at its expanding Bellaire store in the future. Because of the demand on the company and planned expansion, ICR is looking to hire more workers, such as rental managers, store managers and counter sales people.

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