WVU Medicine Turns to US Company to Secure Supplies for Future, Jobs in Morgantown | 104.5 FM and 1440 AM | The voice of Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine’s search for enough PPE in the early days of the pandemic sparked a partnership that will mean new jobs in the Morgantown area.

Albert Wright
Photo/WVU Medicine

The governor’s office announced last week that Fortune 500 company Owens & Minor plans to open a medical distribution and logistics facility in Morgantown.

The site will employ over 100 people when fully operational.

According to Wright, two years ago, when PPE was hard to come by and highly valued, this idea took root in the organization.

“Our goal was to have just-in-time inventory and have as little on-site as possible,” Wright said. “So we all got caught up in not knowing what to do when COVID hit and we’re all thinking a lot more about personal protective equipment right now.”

As part of the WVU medical team worked to meet PPE needs across the system, another part of the team began developing plans to prevent a shortage from happening again.

“We decided we were going to look at who the suppliers would be and who we would buy from, but distributors that not only do we buy from, but they bring the supplies to our hospitals,” Wright said.

The plan began to take shape when Owens & Minor management took a trip to Morgantown. Meetings followed with Governor Jim Justice, Justice Administration Chief of Staff Brian Abraham and Director of Economic Development Mitch Carmichael. Further face-to-face meetings have continued between the leaders of the two companies after senior state officials affirmed their support for the partnership that will benefit both organizations.

“It’s also good when you gel personality-wise and Owens & Minor CEO Ed (Pesicka) has been to West Virginia with me three or four times now,” Wright said. “And they have a culture similar to ours at WVU Medicine.”

Owens & Minor has some offshore capability, but it’s a US company with significant operations in that country.

“I also think the fact that we’re striving to work with US-based manufacturers and suppliers and create jobs in West Virginia resonates with most of our employees,” Wright said.

Owens & Minor plans to move into a 250,000 square foot building in the WestRidge Business and Retail Park. The $50 million project is expected to be occupied approximately 18 months after construction begins. The start date for the work has not been set.

“I’ll sleep better at night knowing these supplies will be in Morgantown and we can take care of our own if we ever find ourselves in a situation similar to what we were in two years ago,” Wright said.

Owens & Minor was founded in 1882 and has become a Fortune 500 company employing more than 15,000 people worldwide. The company manufactures and distributes surgical products and PPE through 1,200 branded suppliers.

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