Client Spotlight: J.H. Fletcher & Co.

The WV Grant Resource Centers’ Client Spotlight series is a monthly feature highlighting the incredible work our clients are doing to secure local, federal, and private funding to empower their communities and economies. See all previous Client Spotlightshere.

Client: J.H. Fletcher & Co.

Funding Secured: $75,000

Grantor | Program:U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) | Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize, Phase 1: Initiate!

Identifying an Environmental, Economic, and Manufacturing Opportunity 

For more than eight decades, J.H. Fletcher & Co. has been a key player in the underground mining equipment manufacturing industry. Based in Huntington, West Virginia, the company and its equipment are renowned for their commitment to innovation, efficiency, and ensuring workplace safety for customers in 22 countries.

In 2016, the company began branching into new industries as Fletcher Engineered Solutions, developing innovative equipment for large naval vessels and steel mills.

Now, with a $75,000 grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy, Fletcher Engineered Solutions is turning their attention to wind turbine blade recycling and sustainability.

Bill Kendall, the New Business Development Consultant at J.H. Fletcher & Co., has been with the company for more than 22 years, working as an engineer, salesman, and research and development manager. Most recently, Kendall has been at the helm of the company’s newest endeavor: Fletcher Engineered Solutions.

“When we looked at current technology for recycling wind turbine blades, we saw that we could again improve worker safety, improve efficiency, lower the cost to shred a blade, eliminate blades going into landfills, and reduce CO2 emissions,” Kendall said.

Kendall said the Fletcher & Co. team was inspired to pursue a wind turbine recycling project for a number of reasons.

“First, we are driven to improve safety of workers,” Kendall said. “It is also important to broaden the base of our company as the industry, the environment, and the economy change. This system will provide jobs for local employees and income for local companies. In addition, it should spawn new uses and create new businesses for recycling wind turbine blades by lowering the cost of the resulting feed stock by a factor of 10.”

Connecting with the Grant Centers & Getting the Grant

Such a project, however, requires significant funding. After submitting one grant unsuccessful application, Kendall said he was encouraged to reach out to the West Virginia Grant Resource Centers by a colleague at the Marshall Advanced Manufacturing Center.

After submitting a technical assistance request, Kendall was paired with Priscila Santos, co-director of the Grant Centers, and grant writers Tabitha Surface and Jessica Shaw. The Grant Centers’ team helped Kendall assemble a competitive proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize Phase 1: Initiate!.

In January 2024, J.H. Fletcher & Co. was named one of 20 awardees and invited to compete in Phase 2: Accelerate! for one of six $500,000 prizes. The $75,000 Phase 1 award funding enables Fletcher Engineered Solutions to invest in research, marketing, and establish a team of professionals, businesses, and recyclers in West Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Georgia, South Carolina, and beyond.

Kendall said the J.H. Fletcher & Co. team was “tickled pink” with the results and for the partnership established with the Grant Centers.

“The three ladies I’ve worked with, they’re professionals, and what a joy to work with,” Kendall said. “Yet, at the same time, they were taskmasters when we were working on the grant. But they were so easy and fun to work with, and they just did a fantastic job.”

Kendall said Tabitha, Jessica, and Priscila’s involvement and expertise made the ultimate difference in the project’s success.

“I really credit them with us getting the grant,” he added.

Preparing for Phase 2

Currently, the team is developing their Phase 2 grant proposal, which is due in mid-July.

“This [grant program] lets us move forward on design, testing, and gathering more team members in helping to make this a reality,” Kendall said. “We have already started working with the Grant Center on Phase 2 of the grant for $500,000, which will let us actually build the first prototype system.”

Over the last few months, Kendall said the team has done small-scale testing on shredding turbine blades with local companies in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“The wind turbine blade project is important to break into the recycling industry,” Kendall said. “The concept has potential applications for other products such as recycling old boats, car panels, aerospace components, and several others that we can look at over time.”

Without the grant, Kendall said the project may not have gained attention or traction as quickly.

“We’re the new players on the block in the wind industry and or recycling industry,” Kendall said. “I’ve talked to several potential customers. They’re all very excited, they’re very enthusiastic about the project, and they felt it was a very good step forward for the industry. But they really want somebody else to be the first one to spend $2 million. So, without this grant, the project probably would have died.”

Overall, Kendall said he has gained a lot of valuable knowledge working with the Grant Centers, and noted these skills will continue to be “immensely” helpful for future grant applications.

“When it comes to writing a grant, work with professionals,” Kendall said. “Don’t try and do it yourself. There’s people out there that are very good at doing that. Tabitha Jessica and Priscila (of the Grant Centers) — they’re the three I know. They’re professionals. Listen to them; to what they say when they’re writing a grant. They’re good at what they do, so pay attention.”

Need assistance elevating your grant proposal? Submit a technical assistance or training request here! Follow the WV Grant Resource Centers on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram for the latest updates on upcoming events, training, and funding opportunities!