WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — West Virginia University paid tribute to three Ohio Valley business leaders Thursday by inducting them into its Business Hall of Fame.
WVU’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics held an induction ceremony Thursday afternoon for 2022 class of the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 86th Annual Meeting and Business Summit at the Greenbrier Resort.
“We gather today to congratulate four outstanding leaders,” said E. Gordon Gee, president of WVU. “Each of their careers demonstrates the bold things required to move this state forward.”
Four individuals were inducted into the hall of fame, including Joseph Eddy, the retired president and CEO of Wellsburg-based Eagle Manufacturing; Elizabeth McIlvain, president and CEO of the Newell-based Fiesta Tableware Co.; and Wheeling native David Simmons, the former chairman and chief executive officer of PPD Inc.
Eddy spent 25 years at Eagle, where he won numerous awards for his business acumen and leadership. Eddy still manages Enhanced Technologies LLC, an energy development company, and Heritage Holdings LLC, a real estate company. He also produced the television show Shale Valley and makes regular appearances on radio programs promoting the natural gas industry and downstream manufacturing opportunities in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions.
Eddy also serves as executive vice president at Chicago-based Justrite Safety Group. Eddy was born in Parkersburg, was raised in Friendly in Tyler County, and is a graduate of Sistersville High School. He credits his upbringing on his family’s farm for his work ethic.
“Growing up on the farm was a blessing for all of our lives,” Eddy said. “Learning the value of hard work, responsibility, determination, and perseverance; Taking care of livestock, crops, farm equipment, and most of all each other. Our father instilled in us the economic value of a great work ethic, and our mother the importance of a gracious heart and a strong compassion for life.”
McIlvain is the fourth generation of the Wells family to own and operate Fiesta Tableware Co., formerly known as the Homer Laughlin China Co. McIlvain joined the family business shortly after graduating from Bethany College, working her way up the company’s hierarchy. After stepping away from Fiesta to raise her three daughters, McIlvain rejoined the company in 2007, becoming president and CEO in 2013.
Last year, Fiesta celebrated 150 years in business and the 85th anniversary of the Fiesta brand of dishware, known for its distinctive colors and varieties.
“I’m so proud to work alongside my Fiestaware family,” McIlvain said. “If it wasn’t for the hard work and dedication of our potters, this company may have closed a long time ago. I appreciate you all from the bottom of my heart … We are all determined – all of us, the family – to enable future generations to have the privilege of providing jobs to our Ohio Valley community and to be a proud West Virginia manufacturer.”
Simmons was born in Wheeling and graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He began his career at Follansbee-based Wheeling-Nisshin Steel. He spent 15 years at Pfizer, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer, serving as president of two units: emerging market and established business products.
Simmons joined pharmaceutical company PPD in 2012 managing a company of 30,000 workers in 47 countries focused on drug development programs. He left PPD in 2021 after the company merged with Thermo Fisher Scientific. He continues his work in the medical industry by serving on the boards of Cordis and CURIA, as well as providing advice to private equity and venture capital firms. Simmons also serves as a trustee of the Linsly School in Wheeling.
“This is truly an honor,” Simmons said. “I’m proud of my roots, it’s very, very true. I’m a proud West Virginian and this is full circle for me to come back home. It’s really moving and very, very nice.”
Also being inducted into the Business Hall of Fame was Morgantown native Albert Lewis, president of Glass Inc. The glass and fiberglass company was founded in 1968. A Marine Corps veteran serving in World War II and a WVU graduate, Lewis and his wife Doris established the Helen Lewis Medical Research Foundation. Lewis was unable to attend Thursday’s ceremony.
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at [email protected]