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Heart of Glass - Blenko Glass

Blenko Glass is a West Virginia treasure that spans generations. Nothing symbolizes the state of West Virginia better or more beautifully than Blenko Glass. We will discuss current and former craftsmen and designers and how important it is that Blenko and West Virginia glass be appreciated and valued by the younger generation.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

BLENKO GLASS SHUTTING DOWN PRODUCTION

Katie Trippe sent the following information! I think this means the Visitors Center is open now and will be selling the GLASS that has been made. No new glass is being made. The furnaces are shut down. This is very serious situation. (304 743 9081. )
Blenko Glass Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 67
Milton, WV 25541
January 30, 2009
For Immediate Release
Blenko Glass Company announced today that it is shutting down production and is discussing with its counsel whether it should consider filing for bankruptcy. The Blenko Visitor’s Center will continue to remain open. The Milton based manufacturer of hand made glass was sued by Big Two Mile, its former gas supplier, four years ago because of a disagreement about the payments due for gas used at the factory. A court found in favor of Big Two Mile and entered a judgment against Blenko for more than $500,000 in September of 2005. Several proposals for settlement of the case were made by Blenko; none of the proposals was accepted.
Over the past three years members of the Blenko Family were in contact with members of the Maier Family who are the owners of Big Two Mile. Blenko was led to understand that Big Two Mile would not take steps to shut down Blenko. Relying on those assurances Walter Blenko of Pittsburgh PA and Don Blenko of Wellesley MA invested more than 2 million dollars in Blenko in an effort to return the company to profitability. In recent months the company’s losses had been reduced and Blenko management was looking forward to seeing a positive cash flow in the company’s operations.
On January 15, 2009, Big Two Mile took steps to seize “all amounts, deposits, and moneys” in the Blenko Glass bank accounts including its payroll and withholding accounts. Blenko first learned of Big Two Mile’s action on January 23, when Blenko’s bank reported that the bank accounts had been emptied.
Blenko had issued a check on that day to pay for gas that it used in its glass making furnaces. When Blenko learned its funds had been seized it was able to recover the check which was already in the mail. Because of nonpayment Blenko’s gas supplier has refused to supply gas for the glass making process after January 31, 2009. Blenko has therefore shut down its furnaces and some of them will be destroyed due to the loss of heat.
Blenko employs approximately 50 employees. Walter Blenko, President of Blenko Glass, said “I want to thank and pay tribute to the many loyal employees of Blenko Glass who worked diligently and faithfully against bad economic conditions to keep the company operating and producing world renowned Blenko Glass up until the last day.”
For further information please contact: Walter Blenko, President, or Katie Trippe, Assistant Vice President, at (304) 743-9081.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there anything we can do or should be doing to help?
Sue M

westvirginiajanis said...

I am in mourning...... feeling like Osburn's melted snowman.

You would think the State of WV could somehow intervene. However, I guess that wouldn't be capitalism. The first thing that comes to mind is the employees... the history of fine craftsmanship in WV....the pride for the state... the birthday piece..... the sense of community.

WV Janis

Anonymous said...

I am in mourning...... feeling like Osburn's melted snowman.

You would think the State of WV could somehow intervene. However, I guess that wouldn't be capitalism. The first thing that comes to mind is the employees... the history of fine craftsmanship in WV....the pride for the state... the birthday piece..... the sense of community.

WV Janis

andreerods said...

In my country this would never happen.
The people and the local govt should do something. Yes to Sue M
My sympathy to you Hilary.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

My question is Why wait until now to let people know of a problem, why not seek intervention or help from govt before the closure?
Paul J.

sweetdoc said...

Blenko should have been improving. My own group has spent a small fortune enough for a house on new and old Blenko.
On the plus side a NYC dealer told me the price will go up after the closure.
So my 50K will be an investment.
When is the closure sale? I would like to buy a mold or a sign from the 2nd floor.

Anonymous said...

Ed Maier another example of rich oppressing the poor bible says this will happen.

Hillary J Homburg said...

The Blenko family has been wonderful to me, and Blenko Glass workers are extremely important to me.
However. I can't let the comment about Ed Maier pass wihout comment.
The Maier Family lived around the corner from my home. They are known throughout West Virginia as the most giving of people. I am copying the history from the Maier Foundation website. May I suggest you do some research before making negative comments.
After graduation, Mr. Maier returned to his native West Virginia and began practicing corporate law, while investing in natural gas and warehousing properties in West Virginia and Ohio. After several years, the success of the ventures allowed him to stop practicing law and focus his efforts on the business full time.

After attending college with the help of financial aid and following his mother's advice to "do good with all the money you can spare," Mr. Maier decided to give something back. In 1958, he created the Sarah and Pauline Maier Scholarship Foundation, named after his mother and wife. It has focused most of its resources on the higher education of West Virginia students and on cultural activities in the Charleston, West Virginia area. In 2003, the Sarah and Pauline Maier Foundation was renamed the Maier Foundation, Inc.
Ed Maier is the son of Pauline and William Maier.
The Maier's have a right to be paid for services provided.
It seems miscommunication was at the root of this problem.
For whatever reason, Blenko failed to pay for gas - a judgement was obtained in 2005.

Anonymous said...

Anyone that knows anything, about Blenko Glass Company, knew this was coming. So I guess you can say it is not a shock. When a company fires their entire management team at the end of 2008, that act alone could tell you that the company was in serious trouble. Ultimately, the owners control the Company, due to poor decisions and unwillingness to change business practices it has lead to the demise of Blenko Glass Company.

Anonymous said...

Oh I think I found it. Big Two Mile Gas Company
900 Pennsylvania Ave
Charleston, West Virginia 25302-3548
(304) 343-2201

chitrakahn said...

Bad communication runs deep and extends to creditors.

Hillary J Homburg said...

Sue
I plan to phone Blenko on Monday, to ask what if anything they'd like us to do. I wrote to Katie on Saturday when I get a reply I'll let you know. In the mean time,
Please email me for a list of legislators local state and national
Hillary
theblenkoproject@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Mountain Rita,
I understand your upset with the upheaval of our management team. However, their dismissal had nothing to do with the current situation. It was only on Friday January 23rd that anyone knew there was a problem. We had to hear from our bank not from Ed Maier.
I also want to wish you and everyone who has supported this blog and Hillary the best for the future.

Sincerely,
Katie Trippe

Anonymous said...

Katie Trippe
You are missing the big picture
we are supporting Blenko Glass.
Hilly is merely our cheerleader.
Sol

Anonymous said...

Ed Maier/Big Two Mile Gas Co. should be ashamed of themselves. (As an individual he may be a decent human being, but as a businessman? Not so much.) In this current economic crisis to seize the entire contents of a relatively small company's bank accounts without the courtesy of advance warning, leaving them unable to pay any bills - after waiting several years to claim the money owed to them! - is just not nice. Now there are even more people out of jobs, and a fine company - the last in the US to make sheet glass by hand for stained glass windows - will most likely close forever after more than 100 years in business. Shame, shame, shame.

I'm with Sue M: Is there anything we can do to help?

Hillary J Homburg said...

Anonymous:
I have written several times to Katie Trippe the current spokesperson for Blenko Glass.
No request have been made of us.
PLEASE continue to phone and write your local state and federal govt officials.
hjh

Anonymous said...

I found this online today - Blenko is asking for our help:

http://www.wboy.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid=51271

MILTON -- A local company hopes the community will help save a West Virginia gem.

Blenko Glass was forced to stop production earlier this week, laying off around 20 workers. The company owes its former gas supplier, Big Two Mile approximately $500,000. The company hopes the brief shutdown will allow them to pay off the debt and open back up. In the meantime, the gift shop remains open.

Blenko is asking the community to support them and continue to buy glass and write to their local lawmakers to ask the state to step in and help."


So lets all start shopping and/or writing!

Hillary J Homburg said...

YES! Blenko (Katie) did go on TV on Wed or Thurs. Mountain Rita sent the link, and ask for community support, which we have been giving and encouraging for a week. Everyone should automatically give (KT) and Blenko this without question. Blenko Glass must not be allowed to fail.
Please continue to phone, write and also if you own a store place orders for Blenko.
The Fenton Collectors tell me they ask vendors to place orders this is one of the ways Fenton came back. Place orders for goods you want. Ask your local sellers to place orders.
Thank you all for buying, and writing and phoning. Blenko Glass needs you and I know the BLenko Family appreciates your support, you as a customer and a neighbor.
hjh