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Roanoke company marked major milestone in 2013

By Joe Dashiell, jdashiell@wdbj7.com
Published On: Dec 30 2013 07:09:50 PM EST
Updated On: Dec 30 2013 07:32:55 PM EST

Richardson-Wayland Electrical Company has ties to WDBJ7 as well.

ROANOKE, Va. -

You can't miss the sign on Memorial Avenue.

And you've probably seen the company's crews at work, without realizing they were Richardson-Wayland employees.

"We're the ones who help keep the lights on," says Argos Utilities CEO Jeff Walter.

A company that once sold lighting fixtures and appliances, and launched WDBJ radio, is now an electrical contractor, working on power lines and substations with utilities including Appalachian Power, and installing traffic signals for the Virginia Department of Transportation and other customers.

An ability to adapt has helped the company see its 100th birthday.

"Recognizing that something slowed down so we're going to pick up something," Walter explained, "recognizing that you couldn't just survive in the Roanoke market, so they have to work in Richmond, Washington DC, Baltimore and in other states. "

It hasn't always been easy.

The Flood of '85 inundated the company complex along the Roanoke River.

Betty Brubeck is a veteran employee whose office flooded in 1985. " I took stuff home and hung it on the clothesline to dry papers so that I could run 'em in the copier," she told us. "It was a mess and I hope I never go through another one."

Gordon Crawford is a retiree with 40 years of service. "And it was just a testament to the people that were here," Crawford said in an interview, "to put this company back together in a matter of about 60 days."

When the company celebrated its 100th anniversary last summer, we met many retirees and current employees with decades of service, who told us they've enjoyed working for a company with a family atmosphere and a reputation for quality.

D. W. Tomlin is a Signal Technician who told us he enjoys the work and his fellow employees.  "The quality of the people and the quality of the work, you know and that speaks for itself."

The CEO of parent company Argos Utilities says the company enjoys being in Roanoke.

And Jeff Walter says Richardson-Wayland hopes to stay in Roanoke, and remain a fixture here for another hundred years.