YORKVILLE - The steel mill in the heart of Yorkville is again finding its way into the benchmark moments of the manufacturing industry: in the early part of the 1900s it was recognized as the "birthplace of cold reduced black plate for tinning," and was also known worldwide as being home to the first tandem mill of its kind - a piece of machinery which proved to quickly be responsible for revolutionizing the steel business.
Today it is again being seen as a place where positive changes can be realized for the benefit of many, though these changes in direction are seldom easily realized. They are seen as well worth fighting for.
The mill will now be known as the Ohio Cold Rolling Co..
Signs with the RG logo will be replaced today with the new ownership name: Ohio Cold Rolling Co. It will be part of the Esmark Steel Group, and its parent entity Esmark Inc. which is led by Esmark Founder Chairman and CEO James P. Bouchard.
Tom Modrowski, CEO of Esmark Steel Group, will be overseeing the operations of both Yorkville facilities at the corporate level.
James Ledgard is joining Esmark's Yorkville mill leadership team as CEO of the Ohio Cold Rolling Co.
Buchard also confirmed James Tennant, current CEO if Ohio Coatings Co., will remain in that capacity.
As part of the transaction close, Modrowski said Esmark has achieved a new collective bargaining agreement with the United Steelworkers of America for a labor contract at Yorkville.
"We want to thank USW District 1 Director Dave McCall and his team for their collaboration in reaching this contract agreement," said Modrowski. "Our expectation is we will initially recall approximately 160 union workers as the Yorkville restart operations begin in January 2013, with the hope of adding more workers as our monthly volume increases. We're looking forward to rolling our first steel coils at Yorkville and supplying Ohio Coatings and our other customers with quality products."
"Everything is finally done," said Esmark founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James P. Bouchard Thursday afternoon as details of the public unveiling of the company's commitment of more than $21 million to the Yorkville mill's operational future took center stage at a celebration held today in front of the mill.
Bouchard's effort to complete the purchase of the Yorkville mill through RG Steel's bankruptcy reorganization process hit a serious snag hours before the initial closing was scheduled.
Since that point Esmark has been working closely with federal and state officials to assess the issues, and develop plans to address the concerns in ways that meet with the remediation standards and regulations in the eyes of several government agencies, beginning with the federal and state environmental protection agencies.
Those successes were championed by various political representatives of the area from the village representation up through to the federal level, according to Esmark.
In testament to that hard fought for success is the expected appearance today in Yorkville of Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich.
A number of government entities tied to the situation due to their everyday responsibilities at the federal and state levels chose to step up quickly and with great effectiveness ultimately making a positive outcome possible, explained Bouchard with genuine appreciation for their willingness to keep the resolution effort moving forward.
"This is a win-win-win deal," said Mark D. Kvamme, president and interim chief investment officer for JobsOhio. "Esmark has found a great location where a new segment of their business can thrive, jobs are being created for the community, and the site will be remediated to the EPA standards through Ohio's Voluntary Action Plan."
RG Steel no longer hold keys to the historically significant cold-rolled finishing mill operation at the heart of the Village of Yorkville, or to what was a 50 percent ownership in the joint operation at the nearby tin-plate facility, the Ohio Coatings Co.
Esmark was able to realize a successful conclusion to the process which began with it gaining court approval several months ago as the high bidder for the Yorkville mill.
The forward motion of the transaction came to a grinding halt the night before the matter was originally set to have been consummated in the eyes of the federal bankruptcy court when undisclosed and unresolved EPA matters came to light, courtesy of officials at the state level inquiring about Esmark's plans to address several issues.
Issues it had previously been unaware of altogether.
Bouchard's purchase offer was presented along with what developed into a complex two-pronged sales process aimed at acquiring the bankrupt entity's reduction and finishing mill in Yorkville, and pairing that effort with an offer to RG asking to purchase the OCC joint ownership status.
RG Steel's ownership of the OCC partnership had not been part of the bankruptcy reorganization listings of resources to be sold in order to raise monies to pay debtors.
However, Bouchard and his team put the idea forward and it was ultimately accepted by the joint venture's other participant, the Korean steel company now known as TCC .
Bouchard and his Esmark team are stepping in quickly to shoulder those leadership responsibilities as the final steps of the complex transition process are tackled while keeping a focus on a targeted production start-up timeframe of late December or early January.
Steps to install a new IT system throughout the plant in Yorkville have begun, allowing that when it gets into production everything will be able to be communicated effectively throughout the entire Esmark operational network. The task comes with an installation needing 60 to 90 days to complete, and represents an investment of $400,000.
Bouchard also confirmed that the supply of hot rolled steel product which will be essential to the actual start up was ordered Thursday.
The painstaking work that will need to be done with a focused effort in order to bring the mill back up and have it ready for production to begin in late December of early January is something Bouchard said he is confident will be accomplished and will be done well thanks to the experienced Yorkville mill's workforce.
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