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email@example.com - June 2003
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Article in The E & Y Entrepreneur of The Year Magazine
Charleston, WV - June 12, 2003 – Joseph M. Wells, III, President of The Homer Laughlin China Co. was tonight named West Virginia’s 2003 Master Entrepreneur of The Year in the annual Ernst & Young awards ceremony that recognizes the most successful and innovative business leaders in the State.
The event was held at The Embassy Suites in Charleston, WV where an elaborate Mardi Gras theme heightened the excitement and celebration of the evening. In attendance were over 500 people including Governor Bob Wise as well as Executives and CEO’s from the most prestigious and innovative West Virginia businesses.
A one-minute video presentation about the Homer Laughlin China Co. was presented on four large screens across the banquet hall. The video highlighted the commitment of Joe and the Wells family to the employees of the company and the tri-state community by purchasing the company from the Aaron family in 2002. When the Aaron family decided to sell their shares the company was at risk by being taken over by an outside company who could have dismantled or relocated the factory. Instead of cashing out the Wells family took a stand in behalf of the employees and surrounding communities by re-investing their personal funds and taking on the overwhelming responsibility of long term debt to save the company.
In an emotional and heartfelt speech, Joe Wells thanked his employees and family. “It’s all about the people that work for you. It’s certainly the reason why my family and I bought The Homer Laughlin China Co. We have fourth, fifth and maybe sixth generation employees at the company. When the company was going to be sold, I couldn’t let them down. Those people mean an awful lot to me and as I said, it was the right thing to do.”
Joe also thanked his wife Betsy, his father and two sisters. “I’ve got to thank my wife. I can’t really tell you how many agonizing nights we had (during the process of the sale) and what a help she was to me. I also want to thank my father Joe Wells, Jr., 87 years old, for all the support and all he did through this ordeal. My two sisters Liz McIlvain and Jean Wicks along with their husbands Jack and Pete for loving Homer Laughlin as much as I do and for willing to stand up and do the right thing.”
Joe also acknowledged and thanked his banker, Ed Coukart, President of Sky Bank and his wife Marsha. “It was Ed who said we can do this, we can get this done. Ed’s my best friend and I have to thank him.”
Judges for the awards were Ted Arneault of MTR Gaming Group Inc., Linda Arnold of The Arnold Agency, Roy E. Elswick of Tasty Blend Foods Inc., Gale Y. Given of Verizon West Virginia, Leslie J. Hurst of The Herald-Dispatch, Scott Rotruck of the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce, and David Satterfield, director of the state Development Office.
Joe Wells is now eligible to compete at the National Awards Ceremony in November at a black-tie gala in Palm Springs, California.
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Governor Bob Wise
Joe Wells, III
Bob Huneck, Dick Blatchford, Bill Danley
Jack & Liz McIlvain, Joe Wells
Joe Wells and Friend?!
Joe Geisse, Ken McElhaney, Mike Tkach
Joe Wells, Liz & Jack McIlvain
Joe Wells, III with Finalist
Otto Sirriani, Bob Huneck, Marsha Coukart, Dick Blatchford, Bill Danley
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Article - Part One
Article - Part Two