When a transnational corpora- tion headquartered on the outskirts of Paris, France, invests more than $1 billion in a manufacturing complex in one community, the message is clear: We’re going to be around for a long time.
Indeed, even a change in the name can serve to convey a sense of stability and growth, which is what the executives of Vallourec, a $6.7 billion global manufacturing company, sought to accomplish last week in the Mahoning Valley.
They certainly did.
The announcement that Vallourec Star is the new name for V&M Star preceded last Wednesday’s ribbon cutting for the $1 billion state-of-the-art seamless pipe mill on a site that spans Youngstown and Girard along Route 422.
On hand for the dedication was Philippe Crouzet, chairman of Vallourec’s management board; Skip Herald, managing director of Vallourec’s Division of Oil Country Tubular Goods in North America; Joel Mastervich, president and chief operating officer of Vallourec Star; and Didier Hornet, director of Vallourec OCTG. When you make a financial investment that, by any measure, is breath-taking, the presence of the company’s top executives is a given.
Government, business and community leaders were also on hand to witness this major revival of steel and pipe making in a region once known as the “Ruhr Valley of America.”
In fact, Mastervich made reference to the Mahoning Valley’s industrial past when he said, “We felt very strongly that we had a core competency here in pipe-making. We liked our skilled labor, and we like the fact we have a very senior workforce in Youngstown.”
Though the pipe-making mill is the centerpiece of Vallourec’s operation in Youngstown, the company also has a steel-making facility and is completing the construction of a pipe-finishing facility.
The investment will exceed $1 billion, while the number of employees could top 500. The average salary of a worker in the pipe-making mill is $50,000.
Once fully operational, Vallourec Star in the Valley will become the country’s first fully integrated tube facility, capable of making steel, rolling and treating it and then finishing the pipe for commercial sale to the oil and gas industry.
Even though continuous production of seamless pipe only began Oct. 26, 2012, the Youngstown-Girard operation along with other North American facilities in Texas and Oklahoma accounted for 29 percent of the company’s revenue last year.
That statistic prompted Crouzet, chairman of Vallourec’s management board, to predict that the Youngstown complex will be at the forefront of the company’s strategic growth in North America.
Herald, the managing director of OCTG North America division, offered this observation about the booming Utica and Marcellus shale plays:
“I have an extensive history in oil and gas, and I’ve seen more change in the last five years than I have in the last 25 years of my career.
As a result of what Vallourec calls the “huge demand” for the products coming out of the Youngstown complex, the company plans to increase its production target in 2014 to 350,000 tons a year. Overall, the facility is capable of producing 500,000 tons of pipe per year.
Anyone who takes the time to look at what is occurring along U.S. Route 422 will come away as impressed as we are with the commitment made by the French company to the Mahoning Valley.
Such an investment of private dollars by a multinational corporation is a marketing consultant’s dream.
Just as we have long advocated the tag line “Made in Lordstown, Ohio” every time there is a national or international story about General Motors’ top-selling Chevrolet Cruze, we believe that Vallourec Star should become the foundation of a marketing campaign for the Mahoning Valley.