Mt. HERMON, Va. — Morgan Olson, a walk-in van manufacturer in Ringgold, formally donated a $175,000 air truck to Pittsylvania County Public Safety at the Mt. Hermon Fire Station Wednesday morning.
The truck can be used to refill air tanks for firefighters and will be utilized by Pittsylvania County's 21 volunteer fire departments as well as in the City of Danville.
"The community here has been fantastic in supporting Morgan Olson," said company President Mike Ownbey, who made the trip from Sturgis, Michigan, for this special occasion. "We always consider the possibility that one of our team members might need your services, so we're glad to help."
Morgan Olson closed on its Ringgold facility in March 2020 and now employs over 400 people. By the end of 2021, the company predicts it will employ 700.
Pittsylvania County Public Safety previously had only one truck capable of air services, which was stationed in the northern end of the county. Seeing as Pittsylvania County is geographically the largest locality in Virginia, Public Safety Director Chris Slemp said this vehicle is indispensable for the southern end of the county.
"This is huge for us," Slemp said. "This is a major step forward for us. We are really lucky to have such a great company like Morgan Olson."
Morgan Olson is putting $40 million in salaries into the community, Ownbey said.
Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Warren said that when he first interacted with Morgan Olson just over a year ago, he could not have anticipated what a truly valuable partner he had just gained.
"We appreciate Morgan Olson more than we can express," Warren said. "Certainly the 700 employees at Morgan Olson will help this region immeasurably. This gift almost makes me speechless."
David Coffey accepted the position of Danville Fire Chief in January 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the Southside. He said it was at that time when the community came together and faced all of the public safety challenges posed by the pandemic.
"This is a gift to the county, but through our mutual aid agreement, I know this is available to the city when we need it," Coffey said. "In the public safety sector, we often deal with 'what-ifs.' I hope we never need this 'what-if,' but I'm glad to know that if we do need it, it's here."
"It is a huge contribution to this community," Coffey continued. "I am excited to know that we have partners in our community that appreciate and recognize the value of the public safety sector."
Warren said that, when government works in harmony with the private sector, things happen that are more impactful than either entity could do alone. That comment garnered a round of applause from the audience.
"This will make a huge difference, but most importantly, this will save lives," Warren said. "In Pittsylvania County, we could not survive without our EMS and fire volunteers."
Warren said that the air truck could be the most valuable gift given to the county by a company in its history.
"Good things are happening in Pittsylvania County," Warren said.