When Wheeling resident Bob Contraguerro Sr. established Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration in 1977, little did he know he would someday host 300 guests for shrimp and cocktails at a grand opening party.
On Wednesday, those guests helped Bob Contraguerro Sr. officially open his new 55,000-square-foot facility at 42 38th St. in South Wheeling. This expansion of the original business – which now allows Panhandle to employ about 100 workers – took nearly a year to complete.
Bob Contraguerro Sr. now serves as the company’s president, while his sons – Bob Contraguerro Jr. and Tom Contraguerro – act as vice president and general manager, respectively.
Photo by Casey Junkins Attending the grand opening ceremony for the new 55,000-square-foot Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration facility in South Wheeling are owners, from left, Tom Contraguerro, Bob Contraguerro Jr. and Bob Contraguerro Sr.
“We’re thrilled to celebrate the fact that we are able to expand and still stay headquartered in Wheeling and the state of West Virginia,” Bob Contraguerro Sr. said in a news release issued at the event. “Our family roots are in Wheeling, and there is no other location better for our family business.”
During the reception, Bob Contraguerro Sr. thanked City Manager Robert Herron for helping the company expand in South Wheeling.
“I went to Bob Herron. He said the city would do whatever they could to keep Panhandle in Wheeling,” Bob Contraguerro Sr. said.
Mayor Andy McKenzie expressed his appreciation for the Contraguerros’ hard work.
“Thank you for investing in Wheeling,” McKenzie said. “This means growth; this means jobs. You are paying B&O taxes, and that money stays in the community.”
James Gardill, chairman of WesBanco Inc., said Panhandle has an excellent working relationship with his bank.
“They are our customers, but we are their customers, too,” he said, noting WesBanco has many area facilities that occasionally need some work from Panhandle.
The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, blessed the new facility.
Numerous city employees and council members attended the event, as did West Virginia state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, Ohio County Commissioner Tim McCormick and Herron. Plenty of local business leaders were also on hand.
Gov. Joe Manchin was scheduled to speak, but Contraguerro Sr. said Manchin could not make it because of inclement weather.
“I told him (Manchin) I would see him in Florida for the bowl game,” Bob Contraguerro Sr. said in reference to the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl game between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Florida State Seminoles.