HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – When the former Reynolds Metals plants closed in December 2008, Howard Hager lost his job, but found an opportunity. With 24 years under his belt with Reynolds and later Alcoa, he believed he could help fill the void left by their departure.
"We had a tremendous amount of knowledge base, the customer base was there, I had personal relationships with some of those customers," said Hager.
Hager's new company, Hanover Foils, is positioning itself to help those customers with their foil packaging needs. He's already talked with companies like Hershey's, Cadbury, and Wrigley's.
"I have calls, even today, asking when we'll be ready to start supplying them," Hager said.
Hanover Foils has the space in this 80,000 square foot facility in Ashland. And it's working on bringing in the equipment. But most importantly, Hager has the help of some of his former co-workers.
"The people is what's going to make this work," he said.
People like Eric Penley. When Reynolds closed, Penley was out of work and worried.
"You feel lost. You feel like you've been thrown out. You did everything you could do, and you're just thrown out to make it on your own," said Penley.
He's now working with Hager to get Hanover Foils up and running.
"We got big plans on making this grow. Being the first one in the door with Howard, working side by side- it really is a good opportunity," Penley said.
The company could grow to at least 60 employees in a few years, bringing much-needed jobs and revenue to Hanover County. As for Hager, he's just glad to be back in business with his old friends.
"It's great to be able to bring some of them back together and start doing what we had done for so long," Hager said.
Production is scheduled to start by the end of January.