The latest guest on Positively West Virginia, Tom Crabtree, shared his story of rebuilding a town from ruins using barrels.

We all remember the floods of 2016 that left behind catastrophic amounts of damage and thousands of people without homes or jobs in West Virginia. When Tom heard about this disaster, he knew he had to help rebuild the White Sulfur Springs community. 

While helping clean up the massive mess, Tom realized that he wanted to do more. He began by starting a nonprofit that would work to make White Sulfur Springs stronger than ever. With some advice and a ton of support from the community, Tom began to think of ways to rebuild the physical strength and the economic strength of the community. 

After spending many months thinking of ways to create a strong infrastructure for the community, fate stepped in that December. At a Christmas dinner, Tom overheard a businessman from Smooth Ambler discussing how difficult it was to get quality barrels into West Virginia for an affordable price despite having the timber to do it. West Virginia is full of white oak, a perfect tree for barrel making, but lacked the means to manufacture them until Tom stepped in. 

Over the past few years, Tom has been working hard to get the WV Great Barrel Company up and running. His new facility has sparked a landslide of new growth for the community. Over 100 new, well-paying jobs with benefits have been created and filled by locals. This new business has even started revitalizing Main Street, with tons of new business moving in and thriving. 

Tom said, “Main street is coming back to life. There’s a new boutique, a new brewery, a new bike shop. There are all kinds of new life!”

This 40 million dollar investment is proving it’s worth every day. The company has customers all over the United States and is making its way around the world through sales in Scotland, the UK, China and Japan. This growth would typically be surprising for such a young company, but the unmatched quality of the barrels from WV Great Barrel Company is difficult to deny.

Fine toasting, aged wood and expert craftsmanship make the WV Great Barrel Company live up to its name with ease. It’s no shock that after six months, their barrels unanimously won a blind taste test against a bourbon that had been aging for two years. Tom knows that high quality and a strong community are what will keep the WV Great Barrel Company thriving. Over the next few years, he plans to watch his company, and in turn, the town of White Sulfur Springs become stronger than ever.

Listen to Tom’s whole podcast here:


  • RECOMMENDED BOOK: 1776 by David McCullough
  • PIECE OF ADVICE:Make sure you’re in a community that needs what you want to do and can support it,” advised Tom.