Big company gobbles Amvest jobs

Not since 1995, when Thomas E. Worrell, the father of local musician Shannon Worrell Chapman, sold the Daily Progress and 28 other newspapers for $230 million, has a single transaction generated so many millions. But today it was announced that much of Amvest, the energy company built up by the late benefactor of UVA's Scott Stadium and head evicter of the Pep Band, Carl Smith, will be sold for $335 million to a publicly held energy coal company.

Amvest, currently headquartered at 1 Boars Head Pointe, a tranquil pond-front structure near the Boar's Head Inn, has its base of operations in the vicinity of uber-rural Wise County, where Smith grew up. The buyer is Consol Energy, the largest coal producer east of the Mississippi River, with annual sales of about $3.7 billion. Included in the sale is an 18-mile railroad, a subsidiary that Amvest owns out in the coalfields of Nicholas County, West Virginia.

Not included in the sale are Amvest's gas operations, the Charlottesville headquarters, and, as 50-60 employees have just discovered: the Charlottesville jobs.

"Our company does not have a need to retain anyone in Charlottesville, pretty as it is," says Consol spokesperson Thomas Hoffman. "Those who work in Charlottesville have been informed today that they will not be offered positions in Consol."

Hoffman was unable to say what will happen to the Charlottesville employees, and Amvest was not immediately able to provide a spokesperson.

Besides being an "extremely well-run company" with no debt, Amvest's coal assets were particularly attractive, says Hoffman, noting that they include Vaughan Railroad Company, an 18-mile West Virginia line that will give Consol a chance to move its fossil fuel.

"That has great value to us," says Hoffman. "Building transportation infrastructure is not easy today."

Smith (UVA '52) was a football star whose passion for business emerged only, he revealed in a 2000 interview, while struggling through a UVA economics class. Before his mammoth $25 million donation toward the $100 million Scott Stadium overhaul, he and his wife, Hunter, had contributed to UVA's schools of architecture, law, business, and medicine, as well as the Children's Medical Center and the Jefferson Scholars Program. The Smiths once planned to build a theater at the corner of Ivy and Emmet Streets, but about a year after Smith's December, 2005 death, that pledge "expired."

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4 comments

Typical of a "tabloid" article, the Hook highlights the negative and downplays the nearly 40 years of favorable impact that AMVEST and the Smith family have had on UVA, the Charlottesville community and Virginia in general. I am pleased to have been employed by AMVEST. The Company has treated its employees well and with respect. The glass is half full, not half empty!

My wife worked at Amvest in the late 90s, and I fondly recall a bumper sticker at their offices: "Earth First. We'll mine the other planets later." Bummer about the jobs - there are a lot of people who have been there forever. I can't imagine they wouldn't be of value to the new owner, but I guess all they wanted are the energy assets.

Sorry - I don't see anything negative about the Hook article whatsoever. Seems pretty straightforward. Seriously - where is the negative content in the article above? The only thing that might be considered remotely negative is calling Carl Smith the "head evicter" of the Pep Band, which is fact, not opinion - and by all means not necessarily a negative! The new band has certainly done nothing to distinguish themselves (they're pretty boring, in fact), but ANYTHING is better than the Pep Band.

I went to work for Carl Smith and Gordon Winfield at AMVEST in early 1968 and continued my employment there until late 1990. I took a brief break and worked for John Rogan for a couple of years in the mid 80s. AMVEST was not a large company when I joined them after working for over twelve years at Acme Visible Records in Crozet. I remember working many long hours, weekends, and holidays, because I loved the company and felt like we were building something. Mr. Smith was such a hard worker, and AMVEST was a good employer for a lot of people for many years. I often drive by Acme in Crozet, now vacant and overgrown, and wonder what happened. I'm glad the beautiful AMVEST building will be enjoyed and maintained by UVA. I didn't know it then, of course, but I loved working, absolutely loved my job and the opportunities it presented, and wish I could do so now. I loved all the people I worked with there, and especially miss Mr. Smith, Mrs. Smith, and Mr. Winfield. My best wishes to all. Work while you can; life is short!