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Esmark still seeks Wheeling Corrugating

July 5, 2012
By CASEY JUNKINS - Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

WHEELING - Seven million square feet of steel decking from Wheeling Corrugating is being used to rebuild the new World Trade Center complex at Ground Zero in New York City.

As Esmark Inc. works to buy Wheeling Corrugating from bankrupt RG Steel, the company headquartered in one of Wheeling's largest buildings is helping to rebuild the area of New York City that was devastated by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Esmark previously owned all the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel facilities before selling them to Russian steelmaker OAO Severstal for $1.23 billion in July 2008. Severstal, after idling its Steubenville and Mingo Junction plants in 2009, later sold these plants to RG Steel.

Following RG's bankruptcy filing last month, Esmark announced it planned to repurchase the downtown Wheeling RG Steel headquarters, along with most of the Wheeling Corrugating assets. This planned purchase, however, will not include the Beech Bottom or Martins Ferry portions of the Wheeling Corrugating business.

According to the Wheeling Corrugating website, custom-designed floor deck by Wheeling Corrugating is being used to form the floor on the 100th level of the One World Trade Center structure.

"Wheeling Corrugating has been awarded all of the steel decking contracts at the World Trade Center site, including work on World Trade Center Buildings one, four, seven, the World Trade Center Memorial and the Transportation Hub," the company website notes. "Our total involvement at Ground Zero amounts to more than 7 million square feet of steel decking."

As it tries to purchase most of Wheeling Corrugating in the midst of this project, Esmark is not making an effort to buy the other local RG Steel plants at Steubenville, Mingo Junction, Yorkville or the Follansbee Mountain State Carbon coke plant. James P. Bouchard, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Pittsburgh-based Esmark, said restarting the Steubenville plant now after being shuttered for three years would be unfeasible.

"At this time there is no change to our offer for select Wheeling Corrugating assets. We are continuing negotiations and following the bankruptcy proceedings closely," said Esmark spokesman Bill Keegan regarding the deal that he said should be completed this month.

Bouchard and Keegan said the downtown Wheeling office, which has stood as one of the tallest in the city since 1905 and served as the headquarters for the former Wheeling-Pitt steelmaker for many years, now houses the headquarters for Wheeling Corrugating on four of its floors. Bouchard wants to keep the company working in the building, while marketing office space on the other eight floors.

Though Esmark will not be purchasing the Beech Bottom plant, Bouchard said he would like to take some of the equipment out of the plant to use at a new Esmark operated facility. He did not know exactly where this new facility would be or when it would open, however.

The other Wheeling Corrugating facilities, according to the company's website, include Emporia, Va.; Fallon, Nev.; Fort Payne, Ala.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Houston; Lenexa, Kan.; and Louisville, Ky. Bouchard said these plants are basically finishing facilities, making them more easy to operate than the Martins Ferry or Beech Bottom plants.

The Wheeling Corrugating website notes the company, founded in 1890, specializes in roofing and siding, decking, highway and bridge building, painted coil, galvanized steel and coil products.

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