BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — This June marks 35 years since Woody Thrasher and his father, the late Henry A. Thrasher, first joined forces to start their own firm in North Central West Virginia, and it doesn’t appear the company has any plans of slowing down.
Just last week, the Thrasher Group announced acquistion of Monongalia County-based Blue Mountain Inc., making the entity one of the largest survey providers in the region.
“We’re honored to bring them on with the Thrasher Group and continue the work that both companies have done,” Thrasher Group CEO Chad Riley said. “We’ve looked at our business forecast and believe that we have a sustainable growth ahead of us, and we’re going to need everyone at Blue Mountain and then some to be able to continue to make contributions to the area.”
Blue Mountain Inc., owned and operated by Doug and Wanda Six, employed more than 100 skilled professionals, who will now be able to lend their expertise to the Bridgeport-based company.
“This is not an acquistion where we’re just getting their clients and their services. Their people are really what make it happen,” he said. “We’re in the consulting business, and the only way we can be successful at business is to have good, smart, innovative, hustling people.”
Prior to the acquisition, Riley said Blue Mountain Inc., owned by Doug and Wanda Six, had been a long-time competitor for the Thrasher Group, primarily known for their aerial mapping.
“And so, as we competed, we’ve watched them over the years, and we’ve always been impressed with the type of company they were and the work that they did,” he said. “We started talking back in the fall, pretty informally, and over time we recognized that we each brought a little something different to the table in terms of services.”
Continuing to diversify the services the Thrasher Group offers is what’s allowed the company to continue to grow and flourish over the last 35 years.
“Really almost every part of our business has grown. We do a lot of different things — architecture, engineering — in a lot of different markets — field services, surveying, construction, inspection,” Riley said. “A lot of things have added up. I think the economy in the country is on the up swing, as well as in the state.”
While Riley says all sectors of the Thrasher Group’s services are growing, he said those growing at the fastest rate are the oil and gas industry and highways.
“Unquestionably, the oil and gas grew really fast several years ago and slowed down really quickly. That was a short-term situation where they were taking more gas out of the ground than they could take to market,” he said. “Now what we’re seeing is pipeline activity, but the real end-game for our region, I think, is the attention that the Appalachian basin is getting from the petrochemical and manufacturing industry.”
Riley said he’s slowly seen the greater tri-state region build toward an emerging petrochemical and manufacturing industry, and he’d like to see that expand into West Virginia.
“Whether we’ll see that happen or not, who knows,” he said. “We’ve decided to continue to build our company, not only in energy but in every other area we work so that we can continue to support the region, our state and the people who live in it.”
That’s been the key to the Thrasher’s Group’s success, focusing not on the services but to make the overall mission to improve the communities where they live and work in.
“We never really had a plan to grow like we have,” Riley said. “To the outside world, sometimes we appear as a big company, but we’re really the same company we’ve been for 35 years.”