Steel processor banks on upswing

The project is the second expansion in about a year for United Steel Service Inc.
BROOKFIELD -- A Trumbull County steel service center is continuing to grow despite a national crisis that has forced 18 U.S. steelmakers to file for bankruptcy protection in the last three years.
United Steel Service Inc., also known as Uniserv, has completed a $2.67 million expansion project at its Brookfield headquarters, its second expansion in about a year. The company finished a larger, $5 million expansion in the spring of 2000.
Jeffrey D. Bayman, president and chief operating officer, said Uniserv leaders have an aggressive business plan, and they decided to build and buy new equipment despite the national steel-industry downturn.
"There are lots of serious problems in the steel industry, and we're very concerned," he said. "But we think the economy is going to turn around, and when it does, it will be a big turnaround. We're buying and expanding during the downturn, so when the upturn comes, we'll be ready for it."
He said company officials don't expect to see a noticeable improvement in the national economy until sometime next year.
Its business: Uniserv's business supplying the pipe and tubing industry has remained steady, and its gas- and oil-well business has been doing very well. Its business with railroad-car fabricators, however, has been very slow.
"The consumers need to lead us out of the recession," Bayman said. "I know, a lot of people say we're not in a recession, but if they were involved in the steel industry, I don't think they'd be saying that."
What's been done: Bayman said the latest Uniserv expansion includes an 11,000-square-foot building addition, bringing the plant to 111,000 square feet.
The addition accommodates a new turret head slitter, designed to process intermediate- and heavy-gauge carbon and stainless steel. A gamma X-ray machine was added to accurately measure the thickness of the finished product, and a looping pit, tension stand and turret head recoiler will improve product quality.
Uniserv also operates four other slitting lines at the Brookfield plant on Parkway Road. Its 216,000-square-foot Masury plant on Iron Street houses metals, rail products and warehousing-depot divisions.
The company employs 180, including several employees hired to staff the new slitting line.
Funding: Uniserv, with the assistance of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, obtained a low-interest, tax-exempt industrial revenue bond to help finance the project. Revenue bonds allow companies to finance construction or renovation projects at interest rates below those generally available from commercial lenders or public loan programs.
Brookfield Township Trustees and the Trumbull County commissioners also approved a 10-year, 60-percent tax abatement to assist the growing company.
Bayman said Uniserv specializes in custom production slitting, edging and component fabrication of carbon and stainless steel. Steven A. Friedman is vice-chairman and chief executive of the company, which was founded in 1968.

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