ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The third annual Belmont County Oil & Gas Expo is taking on a fresh new look.
The previous two were staged under the auspices of a Morgantown-based outfit. Now the expo is in the capable hands of local businessmen who have committed deeply into the Ohio Valley.
Rick Frio and Dave Humphreys, partners in Bellaire-based MPR Transloading and Energy Services, are leading the expo charge. They were approached by Belmont County Port Authority Director Larry Merry, and they enthusiastically accepted the challenge.
"The port authority came to us and asked if we'd run the show as they were making a change and bringing show execution and control to Belmont County. This show is critical for our region and we felt with the MPR team's expertise in energy and as a past exhibitor and participant, we'd be successful in creating value for all involved," Frio noted. "One of the reasons this show is so critical and valuable is that Belmont County needs to not only keep a high level industry discussion going in Belmont County but participate in that discussion. At MPR, we've found that the oil and gas industry has a passion for operating safely and efficiently."
The expo is planned for May 1 at the Carnes Center, west of St. Clairsville. The night prior, a special program will help launch the event. Some 140 exhibitors were showcased in the 2013 expo.
"Wednesday night, April 30, will be our Networking Reception. We will have our team connecting vendors and exhibitors with their target market," Frio said. "It's really not a 'social' night, it's an evening where the industry will be meeting vendors who will be serving them for years and years. It's a good place for vendors and visitors to interact in a casual setting."
Frio and Humphrey are championing their challenge with unbridled passion.
"Our goal is to create value for not only the exhibitors, sponsors and attendees but the citizens of Belmont County as well," Frio offered. "On the business side, our exhibitors, sponsors and vendors are spending money and time to be at the show, and this year we are putting in processes for them to meet and get introduced to their target market. It's important for vendors to be in position and have their name in the mix for when it does happen.
"2014 appears to be the year that Belmont County starts to evolve from the leasing stage to the operational stage of this industry, and vendors need to get in front of that now. All signs indicate that 2014 is the year Belmont County sees significant activity, and we need to get on the front end of that logistically," he continued. "To achieve that goal, we are bringing together a panel of state and local government entities, as well as the industry companies which purchase those goods and services, and equally important the transportation companies who haul on our local roads. The purpose of that is to get a discussion going on how best for the industry and community to interact safely and productively."
Frio added that Toby Rice, president of Rice Energy and one of the leaders in the oil and gas industry as well a major player in Belmont County, will be giving an overview of the industry. His address will obviously attract much interest.
Humphreys and Frio note that their MPR staff is stepping up to make the expo a success story. In particular, they pointed out the expertise of Brandi Patt of Shadyside who owns Brandi Patt Design.
"She stepped in immediately with superb website design and has been a godsend. She's passionate about Belmont County and eager to see this show continue and grow," they noted.
Merry, in his role as port authority director, also shoulders much of the expo burden.
"The Belmont County Port Authority and I, personally, are thrilled to announce that MPR in Bellaire will be handling the management and coordination of the 2014 oil and gas expo. Their creativity and devotion to the Ohio Valley and to Belmont County speaks for itself," Merry said. "We're thankful that they are taking this on with such short notice due to circumstances and happy that they are willing to step up and put on the greatest expo yet."
Humphreys understands the importance of the expo and has a genuine interest for its success.
"We don't want people moving away in search of good-paying jobs," Humphreys said. "We need our young people staying here. It is a great place to live and raise a family. We believe the expo will make good jobs available to more people."