Over the last couple of years, hundreds of coal miners have been laid off. There are not many jobs left in this industry.
That was the problem facing Bill Hammond of Red Jacket, who had worked for Alpha Natural Resources for 23 years. The company has shut down several mines in Appalachia.
“I was just not able to find any work,” he related.
“The UMWA was giving out grants for retraining miners who were laid off,” Hammond said. “I decided to learn another trade and profession.”
So he and his current business partner Benji Browning, who had worked in the mining industry for 13 years, decided to take advantage of the grant.
Both went back to school.
Bill and Benji, who have started B & B Heating, Cooling and Ventilation, LLC, attended the H & C program at the Ralph R. Willis Vocational School in Logan to get training to install, repair and fix heating and air conditioning units.
They went for the full term and passed their certification tests.
The new business has only been up and running for a few weeks.
“We had the desire to stay in the area,” Hammond, who had considered relocating his family, said. “But I trust that our local community will give us a chance.”
“I don’t want to relocate, I would like to stay here in the area,” Hammond said.
His son Stevie is a standout athlete at Mingo Central High School, now entering his junior year.
“I have lived and was raised in this area,” Hammond said.
“We would both like to make a living and support our families,” he added.
So Bill and Benji hope that they will get enough business to get their heating and cooling business going in the right direction in the near future.
“We just wanted to let people know we are available,” Hammond said.
Those interested in their services can call 304-426-5535 or 304-664-2083 for info and estimates.
After 23 years of mining coal, Hammond knew he needed to change directions and take a new career path.
Hopefully this decision and his desire to learn a new vocation will pay off for him and other laid off miners.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)