A CSC executive is advising laid-off workers to seek work elsewhere rather than wait for the mill to be revived.
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
WARREN -- Foreign investors who agreed seven weeks ago to pay $1.2 million for the real estate on which the CSC Ltd. steel mill once stood are still trying to decide whether to start a steelmaking operation on the site.
Don Caiazza, a CSC executive and one of the bankrupt company's few remaining employees, said the investment group calling itself Warren Steel LLC is "analyzing a multitude of alternatives" for using the property.
He said Warren Steel LLC is studying a business plan that he and three other CSC executives put together to show the feasibility of a steel operation there. They are also trying to decide what products they might produce, should they decide to operate.
Bought equipment: The investors, whom Caiazza has not identified, also paid $6 million in October for CSC's two largest and most costly pieces of steelmaking equipment, the continuous caster and the melt shop. Both were new equipment added as part of a $100 million capital improvement project before the steel bar mill ran out of cash and shut down.
Those items remain at the mill site on Mahoning Avenue N.W., Caiazza said, along with the plant's rolling mills and its finishing equipment.
The mill, once the Mahoning Valley's fourth largest industrial employer, stopped making steel in April 2001.
Most other items have been removed, Caiazza said, carted out by buyers who bought the equipment for pennies on the dollar at a court-ordered auction held in October to raise money to pay off CSC's debts.
CSC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2000, and its assets were sold at auction after an unsuccessful, yearlong search for a buyer to operate the mill intact.
Warren Steel LLC has hired four guards to protect the plant and the assets remaining round-the-clock, Caiazza said.
A few other employees were hired to maintain the plant, perform fire watch and assure compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Building and crane girders are being vacuumed so they are free of dust.
Advice to those laid off: Caiazza said he's very concerned about building up hope among the 1,275 CSC employees who lost their jobs with the mill closing.
"What I tell them is that they should not count on anything happening here and they should be out seeking gainful employment elsewhere," he said. "If we make something happen here, that will be a bonus, but in the meantime do what you need to do to feed your family."
He said he's had inquiries about truck traffic moving in and out of the plant. The trucks are serving Ohio Star Forge, another company that is located on a two-acre wedge at the rear of the 400-acre CSC property.
Caiazza said some CSC scrap is being sold and shipped out, as well, to other companies for melting.
Another prospective buyer, Youngstown developer Bill Marsteller, has also expressed an interest in buying the CSC property and maintains he offered $1.02 million during the October auction. His attorney, Thomas Schubert of Warren, could not be reached to comment on whether he will object to the foreign investor's purchase on the grounds that his offer was submitted first.
Transfer of ownership must be approved by Judge William Bodoh, who has been hearing the case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown.