Esmark gets ready for Yorkville operations

YORKVILLE – Ohio Cold Rolling Co. is on course to resume operations in September, spokesman Bill Keegan said Friday.

“We anticipate (early- to mid-) September as the time frame for when we’ll actually be moving finished coils over to Ohio Coatings Co. so they can process it for their orders,” Keegan said. “That’s a good estimate at this point.”

Esmark Inc. had purchased the idled mill from bankrupt RG Steel in October. Chairman and CEO Jim Bouchard initially had intended to restart operations last fall but was forced to delay after discovering federal and state environmental violations during RG Steel’s tenure hadn’t been addressed.

“By the time we closed the deal and worked through remediation, we’d missed the window for the 2013 tin contract season,” he said. “With the plan we have in place now, we’ll be in position to work on the 2014 order book, so in terms of capacity and orders I feel we’re in good position right now.”

Keegan said the restart will be gradual, as will callbacks, though they’ve had a skeleton work force on site for maintenance and firewatch.

“There will be a staggered callback,” he said. “Workers would have to get their physicals, and of course we’ll be working with the union on that. Full capacity would be about 160 workers, but at this time I can’t tell you how many will be (brought back) in the first wave.”

Crews, meanwhile, are currently installing a new information system that will integrate operations and inventory of Ohio Cold Rolling Co. and its biggest customer, sister company Ohio Coatings Co. “It will give us a real clear picture of our orders and processing0,” he said, conceding that the steel market seems to have new legs.

“We’re starting to see some price increases,” he said. “We’re starting to see some improvements, but whether it’s at the levels we’ve seen previously remains to be seen. A lot has to do with overall economic conditions improving, but we do believe that we will be a low-cost provider.”