Heidtman Steel to build larger plant, shut older one

Sparrows Point-area facility will add jobs

March 09, 2000|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Heidtman Steel Products Inc., a Toledo, Ohio-based steel processor, will open a $12 million plant in the Sparrows Point area later this year.

The privately held company has a plant in the area that processes about 14,000 tons of steel each month, but it is operating at capacity. That plant, in the Fort Holabird Industrial Park, will close and work will be transferred to the new site near the intersection of Wise Avenue and North Point Boulevard.

The plant, which officials hope will be up and running by the fall, will employ about 77 people -- up from 54 at the current plant -- and 20,000 tons of steel should pass through it each month, bringing in about $6 million in annual revenue. Workers earn about $14 to $16 an hour, officials said.

"Running at capacity presents a lot of challenges and this will give us room to breathe," said Ray Droski, plant manager.

Heidtman buys coils of steel, much of it from Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point mill, which it then slices into custom-width coils to fit manufacturers' machines. Its customers include makers of filing cabinets, building materials and auto parts.

Along with additional space, Droski said, the chief benefit of the new location is that it is on a rail line. Currently, its products are received and shipped solely by trucks, which costs about a third more than rail transport.

"This will give us a distinct advantage in that aspect," he said.

The company has a plant adjacent to the new site that removes rust from coils before they are processed further. That operation employs about 75 people.

Because the plant will be in an enterprise zone, Heitdman will receive property and employment tax credits.

Peter Swanson, business development director for Baltimore County, said the Sparrows Point area has been hard hit as Bethlehem Steel has increased productivity but slashed its work force -- from 30,000 in the 1960s to just over 4,000 today.

"As that major operation went though some difficult times, a lot of businesses in the vicinity went through difficult times," Swanson said. Heidtman's new plant "is significant from the standpoint of new development in the enterprise zone."

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