Chamber charmed by charcoal

Most businesses are plagued with a high employee turnover rate, but Kingsford Manufacturing in Parsons doesn’t have that issue. Plant Manager Carey Preston said retirees have an average of 24 years seniority.

“Lots of our employees stay until they retire,” said Preston. “We conduct yearly performance evaluations to review the year, and use that for development of our very talented staff.”

Preston, who has been a plant manager with Kingsford for 34 years, said he has worked at five sites. The Parsons plant, one of three in the Mountain State, was built in 1958. The Parsons plant produces the finished charcoal product, the Beryl plant produces char and the Ridgley plant is a warehousing system.

The modern charcoal briquette was designed by Henry Ford. He operated a sawmill in Michigan to make wooden parts for his Model T. As the piles of wood waste began to grow, Ford was looking for an efficient way to use the wood waste and, working with E.G. Kingsford, made charcoal.

Preston said Kingsford is all about quality.

“We have about 80 percent of the market because we are all about the quality,” Preston said. “Our advantages are ease of ignition, time to cooking readiness and time product heats to 380 degrees.”

“Our plant works seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Preston said. “The Parsons Plant produces 100,000 tons of briquette a year.”

Preston said Kingsford is having another great year with steady level growth. He said that gas grills are on the decline.

“Part of the continued success of Kingsford is because of the numerous barbeque championships and the food and cooking channels. These are growing in popularity, and helping with interest in charcoal grilling.”

Preston said the completion of Corridor H would help with transportation.

“We have drivers that get stuck on the mountain and others that get lost,” he said. “The completion of Corridor H would be a plus to Kingsford Manufacturing.”

In other Chamber news:

-Mike Talbott told Chamber members he is beginning to work on the budget today.

-Mayor Duke Talbott introduced mayor elect Van Broughton. Talbott said they are working together to make the transition seamless.

-Bonnie Woodrum encouraged businesses to make emergency comprehensive plans to keep businesses running during a crisis.

-Kate Reed reported on the great success of Randolph County Day at the Legislature.

-Sharon Bedford updated members with information on the Randolph-Tucker Children’s Advocacy Center.

-Reed asked for sponsors for the education scholarship fund. She reminded members that messages could be sent through the Chamber email blast, reaching more than 700 users. She also reminded members of the Chamber Awards Banquet for April 10.

The next Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce meeting is slated for May 8.

Contact Beth Christian Broschart by email at