The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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April 13, 2014

$35M upgrade planned for tube plant

WHEATLAND — Wheatland Tube Co.’s Council Avenue plant in Wheatland is going to get a $35 million upgrade, the company announced Saturday morning.

Upgrades to the plant include adding new equipment and automating many processes. During the next two years, the $35-million investment will create a safer, cleaner workplace, eliminate production bottlenecks, reduce work in process inventory levels, enhance production efficiencies, improve product quality and improve customer service, the company said.

Officials were not immediately available for comment as to what the upgrades would mean for employment numbers or if new products would be created.

In recent years about 300 production workers have been employed at the plant. Employees at the mill have been notified about the upgrades, company officials said.

The announcement was made by a press release issued by JMC Steel Group, the operations company for Wheatland Tube.

“For years we have discussed the need to update the equipment and production environment of this facility in order to continue to successfully compete at a global level,’’ Barry Zekelman, chairman and chief executive officer of JMC Steel Group said in a news release. “ We are proud to take this step with the employees of Council Avenue and the Wheatland Tube community. We believe in the products that this facility produces and the people that produce them. The result will be a revitalized and modernized facility which will be poised to aggressively grow the standard pipe market and compete long into the future.”

The Zekelmans, a Canadian family, own and operates JMC Steel.

Mark Magno, president of Wheatland Tube, said, “This project represents an incredible investment in Wheatland Tube by JMC Steel Group and the Zekelman family for our customers and employees. For years, this facility has been negatively affected by high levels of unfairly traded imports. The new equipment and revitalized facility will allow us to provide our customers with unmatched quality and service.”

Magno noted that for years the pipe and tube maker has been hard hit by imports unfairly brought into the U.S. Over the years the company, along with others in the pipe industry, has filed trade suits against Chinese and other overseas producers saying their products were dumped on American shores. Dumping, illegal under international trade agreements, is a process in which a company sells a product below the cost it took to produce it.

Wheatland Tube is a  leading North American manufacturer of standard pipe, fence framework, fire sprinkler pipe and galvanized mechanical tube. In addition, it is a leading manufacturer of steel electrical conduit, including hot-dip galvanized steel rigid metal conduit, steel intermediate metal conduit, steel electrical metallic, rigid aluminum conduit and running thread pipe.

Wheatland Tube’s divisional headquarters is based in Sharon. The company has a total of seven plants in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois.

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