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PENNSYLVANIA Buyer plans not to operate Wheatland Tube division



Published: Sun, March 23, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

WHEATLAND, Pa. -- The prospective buyer of Wheatland Tube's Cold Draw Division on Clinton Street won't be operating the facility after the sale.

That means the 115 workers at the plant will lose their jobs.

Bill Kerins, Wheatland Tube vice president, said today that the company has received a letter of intent to sell the assets of the Cold Draw Division. The prospective buyer, whom he wouldn't identify, won't be operating the plant, which produces mechanical tubing primarily for the automotive and lawn and garden markets, Kerins said.

Hoped for sale

Wheatland Tube had hoped to sell the facility to someone who would keep it operating, but that isn't going to happen, he said, noting that employees were notified of the letter of intent Wednesday.

A proposed meeting in early March between prospective buyers and the United Steelworkers of America, which represents the hourly workers at the plant, was canceled.

Union officials couldn't be reached to comment this morning.

Kerins said Wheatland Tube has no room to move the Cold Draw workers into its other plants in Wheatland, Sharon and Warren. The company already has a total of about 80 people laid off in those facilities, he said.

The company normally has a work force of more than 1,400.

Wheatland Tube's parent company, the John Maneely Co., bought the Cold Draw Division as part of a Sawhill Tubular Division acquisition from AK Steel Corp. in April 2002.

The Clinton Street plant hasn't been profitable for a number of years, Kerins said, noting that national capacity for the type of material produced there is 750,000 tons a year. Unfortunately, the national market needs only 400,000 tons a year, he said.

The depressed market prompted Wheatland Tube to announce in late February that the Cold Draw Division would be sold or closed.

Any rumors about a similar fate for the Sharon plant also purchased as part of the Sawhill package are unfounded, Kerins said.

The company gave the Cold Draw employees a 60-day closing notice in early March that expires about May 7, and Kerins said the company will keep the plant operating until then.

The deal to sell the assets probably won't close for a couple of months, he said.




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