West Virginia manufacturers are a driving force in the state’s economy. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, West Virginia supported $3.54 billion in manufactured goods in 2019 and $1.67 billion in exports for free trade agreement partners. Together, those pre-pandemic numbers created jobs and supported growing businesses in the Mountain State. Now, two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers talk about growth in the industry and the challenges and ongoing concerns of workforce meeting supply and demand.
Gat Creek, a furniture maker in Morgan County, employed 150 people at its 100,000-square-foot facility in 2019.
“The furniture industry was experiencing a modest recovery prior to the pandemic—housing starts were rising, and millennials were finally starting to form families and buy furniture,” says CEO Gat Caperton. “Everything changed with the pandemic. We moved from growing 10% a year to growing over 30% per year. This is a lot for a manufacturing company.”