The Thrasher Group’s marketing team consists of North Central West Virginia natives | WV News

CLARKSBURG — The Thrasher Group is a well-known company in the area that has provided jobs for locals since it was founded in 1983.

While the company has recruited expertise from elsewhere, it prides itself on hiring West Virginians, a fact evident in that its entire marketing team consists of homegrown natives of North Central West Virginia.

Out of the team’s four members, two are from Clarksburg, one is from Fairmont and one is from Morgantown.

Heidi Handley, Thrasher’s director of marketing, grew up in Fairmont and graduated from East Fairmont High School in 2007 and then Fairmont State University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in communications.

Handley traveled to take jobs in Houston and Pittsburgh before settling back down in West Virginia with Thrasher.

Mary Lemine is a native of Morgantown and now handles proposal writing and a variety of communication efforts.

Lemine graduated from University High School in 2012. She attended West Virginia University and earned a Bachelor of Science in strategic communications, as well as a Master of Science in journalism in 2016, joining the Thrasher Group in 2018 through the Generation West Virginia Impact Fellowship.

Angelica D’Annunzio, a Clarksburg native and 2013 graduate of Robert C. Byrd High School, is a proposal manager.

D’Annunzio graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in journalism and began working with the City of Clarksburg as a community developer after graduating before going to Thrasher in 2019.

Caroline Marion, another Clarksburg native, graduated from Robert C. Byrd High School in 2007 and West Virginia University in May of 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration marketing.

After graduation, she entered an internship with Thrasher as a marketing assistant before the company offered her a full-time position.

Marion’s positions with Thrasher include marketing intern, marketing coordinator handling, community outreach, industry events, training, event planning and more.

The marketing team members find that working with a group of fellow West Virginians has its advantages, including a mutual understanding.

“Working with a team of born and raised West Virginians is a really special thing because a lot of the work we do at Thrasher has a direct impact on the communities of this state,” Lemine said. “Having an entire team who understands how important that is and the magnitude of positive change that can be made here is significant. We have a personal connection to West Virginia — we know the challenges and stigmas and obstacles this state has always faced, and it gives us the passion and knowledge to be a part of the solutions in our own small way.”

“It is a nice surprise to have the four of us all be young women and from West Virginia. While we all call West Virginia home, each of us comes from a different background, have had different experiences, and bring different strengths to the table that make our team really special,” Marion said.

In addition to the sense of camaraderie, the team of West Virginians allows the members to show that natives to the state can compete despite stereotypes.

“So many people still have such a negative opinion about our state — if they even recognize it as a state at all — that it makes me incredibly proud to be a group comprised of native West Virginians. Our team of four young women from the Mountain State is producing materials that are distributed across the Mid-Atlantic region. Our work is seen by a wide variety of people from backgrounds of all types and not only competes with but exceeds industry standards. We get to show these other areas what people in West Virginia are capable of and that’s pretty special,” D’Annunzio said.

“As a West Virginia-based company, it’s such a pride point for me to say my entire team is from the Mountain State,” Handley said. “I am such a firm believer that some of the most talented people I have worked with over the years are natives to this state.

“I think it’s an inherent quality about people from West Virginia that we are extremely resourceful out of necessity, often. That skill is imperative to the marketing team, and we’ve got it. When I think about all of the great work my team has been able to accomplish through the years, it’s just extra special to me to be able to say that we have done it and we have done it in the place we all call home,” Handley said.

When so many young people seek to leave West Virginia for work, it’s worth asking why these four natives stayed in the state, including one of them returning after initially leaving.

“I’m unique to our group in that I did leave the state for a while — I went off to Texas for a bit and then lived in Pittsburgh for a while before returning to my roots. I was excited to explore some larger areas and see what kind of options are out there,” Handley said.

“I came home, though, because nothing else compared to the benefits of living in West Virginia. I grew up in Fairmont and have family all around the North Central West Virginia region. When I was gone, I missed the connections I had here, not only to my family but to the ‘feeling’ of West Virginia.

“One of the many special things about this state is the warmth of the people and the connectedness of the communities — that was something I wanted back in my life. So I chose to return to West Virginia when I was ready to really establish myself in my career and to start my own family and I don’t regret it for a minute,” Handley said.

“To put it simply, West Virginia is home,” D’Annunzio said. “My family is deeply rooted in the state and there was never a second thought that this is where I belong.

“I wanted to continue my family’s history here and the traditions that I was raised with. Living in West Virginia lets me stay close to the people I love and all of the things that have made me who I am today.”

In addition to emotional connection to the state, opportunities for promising graduates was also a factor.

“There’s something really magical about West Virginia to me. The beauty of our state and the warmth of the people have always felt like home, so I knew I wanted to stay here. One of the reasons I was able to do that was because of Generation West Virginia’s Impact Fellowship, which is designed specifically to help match young people to careers here and root them in our communities,” Lemine said.

“I was hired at Thrasher through the Fellowship and was fortunate enough to continue my employment here after my time in the program.”

Marion said family was a factor for her staying close to home.

“There were a few factors that I think allowed me to stay in my home state. First, my family — we were going through a tough time and while I had all the aspirations of spreading my wings and seeing what else was out there, I knew the timing was not right to leave my family behind. Second, the opportunity to stay was available for me,” Marion said.

“A few family friends recommended that I find an internship after graduation and The Thrasher Group offered me a position in their internship program that summer and I’ve had the privilege of being here ever since.

“Last, but certainly not least, I stayed here because I’ve had a real chance for career growth. I feel many young people leave the state because they don’t have the opportunity to grow in their career past an entry level position.

“My time here has proved otherwise — I started as an intern and have spent the last 10 years working my way through different roles with this company to get to where I am today,” Marion said.

The members of the marketing team enjoy Thrasher for different reasons, including but not limited to the things they’ve been able to learn during their time there.

“Thrasher’s engineers, architects, and technical professionals dedicate their work to really specific, important tasks that most people don’t stop to think about. I love that my job lets me get a peek into all of those different things, that one day I get to learn about how broadband gets routed and the next day I’m learning about airport terminals,” Marion said.

“Before I started at Thrasher, I never would have imagined that I would have a favorite wastewater treatment plant, but I do now! All of these things that we take for granted every day are really complex and fascinating systems and I love that I have the opportunity to learn about them firsthand,” Lemine said.

Thrasher also offers the team a welcoming atmosphere and the opportunity to do work that truly matters.

“My favorite part of working for Thrasher is knowing that at the end of every day, I am working for a company that will provide each and every client, no matter the size, the highest quality product possible. We don’t just say we can and will do a job, we put in the work to make it happen. And it’s work that truly makes a difference — I get to play a tangible role in work that helps communities all across our state,” D’Annunzio said.

“If I have to pinpoint one thing I love about Thrasher, it would be the people. They care,” Marion said. “They care about their communities and the work they do to improve them. They care about the people working beside them every day.

“They want to see things go well for each other and for our state. It makes a difference in the experience of coming to work when the people you work with are passionate and caring. Even with 300 people across five states, at Thrasher, it’s a family,” Marion said.

Handley in particular notes that Thrasher allows employees to use their passion and acknowledges hard work.

“Working for Thrasher has given me an unlimited number of opportunities and that’s something that I will be forever grateful for. I started with the company as an administrative assistant and spent some time really learning what we do, who we work with and a host of invaluable knowledge about this industry,” Handley said.

“With that basis — and the initiative to step up and take on other roles — I’m at a place in my career that I’m really proud of. I always believed in myself that I would someday be running the department, but it wouldn’t have happened without the leadership at Thrasher and their confidence in me.

“We are a results driven company, very much believe that you get out what you put in, and that’s one of the things that makes a career here so rewarding. Thrasher has given me the chance to use my passion for marketing and communications to connect with people across West Virginia and beyond,” Handley said.

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