UPDATE from 6pm Tuesday
BELLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After 50 plus years as one of the nation’s largest Caterpillar dealers, Walker Machinery in Kanawha County will soon be under new ownership.
Boyd Company, LLC discussed plans with Walker Machinery President Steve Walker for 18 months or more.
"It’s just a natural progression," Walker said. "It’s bittersweet, but it’s not a dread. If it were a dread, I wouldn’t do it. It’s just time for us to exit the business."
The Boyd Company, LLC recently purchased another Caterpillar dealer, Whayne Supply Company, near Louisville, Ky. They kept all 1,300 workers.
Walker issued a news release stating, "It is the intention of the Boyd Company to continue to operate Walker Machinery ‘as is’ and continue the name Cecil I. Walker Machinery Co."
Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy reacted to the news and said, "I’m concerned but at the same time I don’t want to be negative because I think the business is there. I think they have an outstanding workforce and I think what they do is in high demand."
Local Belle residents were sad to see the Walker’s go.
“Oh, Walker’s been great," Jim Chadwick said. "He has contributed to the people and the finance and everything and he’s been here so long. Everybody ought to miss him."
Walker sent an e-mail Monday, notifying employees of the change. He said, "We thank you for your efforts and will miss our association with you. We do, however, believe your immediate support is needed to make the transition as easy as possible."
Walker attributed his success to his employees, suppliers and customers.
Employees at Walker Machinery in Belle found out Monday afternoon that after 59 years, the Walker family has decided to sell the mine equipment business.
Walker Vice President of Products Support Tim McLean tells 58WCHS the company has been sold to Boyd Company, LLC of Louisville, Kentucky. Boyd is the holding company of Wayne Supply Company the Caterpillar dealer in southern Indiana and Kentucky.
McLean says the only thing that is going to change is the ownership. He says Walker Machinery will keep its name and its Belle headquarters. McLean would not say why the Walker family decided to make the move. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Walker has approximately 700 workers in nine locations in southern West Virginia and southeastern Ohio.
The company laid off 45 workers in June and 23 in September because of a decrease in coal production brought on by the economy and the uncertainty of future mining permits.
West Virginia MetroNews and 58WCHS are WSAZ news partners.