By Burton Speakman
The uniqueness of the RG Steel plant in Warren is expect- ed to make it attractive to potential buyers.
The Warren plant is different from most steel plants in that it has developed a customer base within 100 to 150 miles of the facility, said Chris Davis of Steel Business Briefing, a trade publication about the industry.
“They also make a lot of custom parts,” he said. “They have developed a loyal client base, and they have done it through several owners.”
The Warren facility is considered by those in the market a “gem of a facility” compared to others owned by RG Steel, Davis said. RG Steel has made it known within the steel industry that it is looking to sell any of its properties.
“Conversely, I haven’t heard any whispers in the industry about someone looking to buy the facility,” he said.
There have been rumors about potential buyers for other RG Steel sites, Davis said.
The talk within the industry is the plant is in good condition and that the shape of the facility would not hinder any type of potential sale, he said.
RG Steel filed for bankruptcy May 31. At that point, RG Steel began a process to finish existing orders and stated in its bankruptcy filing that it hoped to have most of, if not all, its assets sold within 60 days.
The United Steelworkers Union continues to work with the company, but the union would not comment about any possible sales opportunities.
“The USW continues to meet internally and with RG management to discuss the company’s business plans and opportunities to move forward. Our members, families and communities have survived tough times in the past, and as always, their skills, experience, leadership and solidarity will be essential for a successful future at these facilities,” said USW District 1 Director Dave McCall, who chairs negotiations for the United Steelworkers Union with RG Steel.
Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel said he has been told by employees that one or two companies have come to look at the Warren facility.
“I’ve heard they’re going to sell it unbundled [from the other RG sites], which is a lot better for RG Warren because it’s a superior facility,” he said.
The expectation is the facility will find a buyer, said Frank Fuda, Trumbull County commissioner.
“It’s supposed to be the most valuable of the RG facilities,” he said.
If the plant stays closed, the impact of losing 1,000 jobs would be enormous, Heltzel said.
The impact would include an increase in the number of people filing for unemployment and possibly using other services such as food stamps in Warren and surrounding communities, said Ben Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Hopefully these people would be able to work with the local Trumbull County One Stop Workforce Center to find new employment opportunities, he said.
“There could be additional challenges for people who have not looked for jobs in the last 15 or 20 or even 10 years,” Johnson said. “They’ve probably never filled out an online job application and wouldn’t know where to find job listings online.”
The One Stop office could help them find places to search for jobs, teach them how to apply online and create a resume that looks good online, he said.
Youngstown has had new steel business, particularly in steel tube, move into the area, Davis said. Hopefully those places can help reduce the potential impact if RG Steel remains closed.
The next hearing in the bankruptcy case is scheduled for Thursday.
RG Steel representatives were not available to comment.