Super Steel plant shuts its doors

Thursday, April 2, 2009
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— The Super Steel Schenectady manufacturing plant in Glenville has closed, fulfilling its notice to the state to end operations by the first week of April, according to the state Department of Labor.

The company, however, did not fulfill its job creation goals with the state as part of a $250,000 loan it received for operations in 2007 and may have to repay a portion of it, economic development officials said.

A spokeswoman for the Empire State Economic Development Corp. said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The parent company, Super Steel Products Corp. of Milwaukee, Wis., laid off 175 employees in stages, beginning Jan. 31. It cited as reason for the closure a steep decline in orders for the Glenville railroad car plant.

Karen Williamson of the state Department of Labor said the plant is practically closed.

“Our understanding is there is a skeleton crew there. But we are not entirely sure,” she said.

Plant Manager William Carr was not available to comment Wednesday. He has refused to comment since Super Steel told the state through a Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, in December that it would close the plant by April 3.

Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said he has been “actively showing the building, and the company is willing to lease or sell it. That is all I can say on this.”

Williamson said the state Department of Labor sent a rapid response team to the plant several times since receiving the notice. The state offered access to its jobs bank and job counseling in addition to workshops on résumé writing and interview tips and techniques. In late January, it conducted an on-site job fair that attracted 10 employers, William said.

Williamson said the state will know later this year how many former Super Steel employees found new jobs.

“There is a delay. We have to check tax and finance reports for that data,” she said.

Former Super Steel employees can still obtain services at the one-stop employment center at 797 Broadway in Schenectady, Williamson said.

The company retains a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with local municipalities. The PILOT agreement started in 1996 at 20 percent of the building’s assessed value of $3.7 million. It was locked in for five years at 20 percent, then increased to 25 percent for two years, then to 35 percent for two years, then to 40 percent for two years and then to 45 percent for two years, where it is currently. It then increases to 50 percent for two years and 60 percent for two years before hitting 100 percent.

The building’s assessment increased to $5 million in 2007 when Glenville underwent a re-evaluation, and it was assessed at $6.7 million for school tax purposes in 2008.

Super Steel received two grants from Empire State Economic Development during its time in Schenectady County. The first was in 1995 for $400,000. Super Steel had to create 150 jobs by 2000. It met this goal, according to state officials.

The company received the second grant in two parts: $250,000 in 2005 and $250,000 in 2007. Super Steel had to create 90 more jobs, bringing the total jobs there to 240, by Jan. 1, 2006, and it had to maintain this number until Jan. 1, 2009, as part of the grant conditions, the Empire State Economic Development Corp. said in December. Spokesman Warner Johnston was not available Wednesday for comment.

Super Steel also operates two other manufacturing plants in Milwaukee. It is not closing those plants or laying off people there, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It is also building rail cars at one of the Milwaukee plants.

Super Steel had $100 million in annual sales and 800 employees in 2007, with about $30 million coming from the Glenville plant. The company also makes products for the auto industry as well as the construction, agricultural and industrial sectors.

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April 2, 2009
8:10 a.m.
smilefamily says...
(This comment was removed by the site staff.)
April 2, 2009
10:32 a.m.

Precision Grinding, Inc. - Birmingham, AL

Long-standing companies and members making up the US Steel Industry are finding competition from leaner, more focused companies in the US steel market.

Smaller, leaner companies that specialize in specific sectors of the steel market have been able to grow their niche market while the larger, older steel companies that failed to move toward a narrower niche market in the past few years have begun to close doors.

Precision Grinding from Birmingham, Alabama, as an example, focuses on processing precision steel plate products from a select, large inventory of full sheets of structural carbon steel plate. Steel Processing services include Flame-Cutting and Plasma Beveling, Blanchard Grinding and Large Surface Grinding, Large Horizontal Milling and Large CNC Machining, and Building precision, specialty machinery. Offering a "One-Stop Shop" approach to the narrower market of Custom, Precision Steel Plate products has allowed Precision Grinding to grow by helping the large base of machine shops, jobshops, and machine builders improve their own cash-flow while offering these same valuable niche services to their own customers as value added services.

Well managed small businesses that target narrow niche markets may have a better chance to survive during this downturn, while the larger conglomerates that continue to serve multiple markets may fall by the wayside.

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