Eugene Herron retires

After 35 years at West Virginia Split Rail, Leonard “Eugene” Herron is retiring.

WVSR has many second-generation employees, but Herron has shared a legacy of working there with several members of his family, including five sons, Brian, Chad, James, Joe, and Scott; and three brothers, Boyd, Dwight “Ike” and John. His younger brothers, Ike and John, are still working for Split Rail and have been for 37 years each.

When family members work together, they may find it difficult to get along, but overall these three brothers are supportive of each other and enjoyed sharing their time together on the job.

Ike Herron mentioned, “I wish him good luck and hope he enjoys his retirement. We all got along pretty good.”

John Herron said, “It wasn’t too bad working with my brothers. You know how brothers are. I guess we can make it and we will be alright.”

Collectively, these three have been part of WVSR for a total of 109 years.

A surprise retirement party was held on Oct. 2.

Eugene Herron expressed his appreciation by exclaiming, “They shocked me a little bit, but they did great!” When asked what has been the driving force behind such a long history of working there, he explained, “They are a great group of friends to work with, especially Jimmy Hodges. I have two brothers working with me in the day shift. We make a good crew together as a family and Jim Hinkle has been good to us.”

Knowing the challenges and rewards of sharing work and family, Jim Hinkle, WVSR president, is the third generation owner of Split Rail. His grandfather founded WVSR in 1929. During the party, Hinkle surprised Eugene Herron with a retirement plaque and a gift.

Dane Moore, WVSR operations manager, appreciates the years of dedication, “Eugene is a corner-stone of the day shift with 35 years of service,” he said. “He is steady, dependable and an expert at his job.”

Eugene Herron remembers when he first started working for WVSR, the rails were hand-hewn on the edges, making points for the rails to fit into the posts. This job requires lifting more than a ton of posts a day, Working as a rail-pointer, his job became easier to create the edges in 2005 when the plant purchased a Pendu Rail Pointer, allowing a conveyor system to cut the rails into the correct length and deliver the rails through this mechanism for pointing.

It has been estimated by the crew that in his career Eugene Herron has produced more than 5 million rails, with 125,000 per year for 25 years, and doubling production with the mechanized pointer to 250,000 per year for the last 10 years.

WVSR Plant Supervisor Larry Riley said, “We can depend on him every day. He will do anything asked of him and he will be missed a lot. It is hard to replace an old-timer.”

Born and raised in Hemlock, Eugene Herron is looking forward to spending time with his seven children, 22 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, with the grandchildren ranging from 5-months all the way to 21. In his spare time he enjoys going “yard sale-ing” and having fun shopping with his grandkids.

He will be turning 62 in February. After years of toughing it out in all types of weather, he said he will be “sitting where it is warm through the winter.” He owns a 10-year-old Twloha pup named Tiko who will be keeping him company in his retirement.