Small plant at port to close down in August

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2001

[06/14/01] A steel-processing company at Vicksburg’s river port will close its local operation in August, a company official said Thursday morning.

Ferro Union has occupied the metal building at 1777 Haining Road at E.W. Haining Industrial Center since 1994 when Macsteel Service Centers USA bought the plant. The company has been using the building to house a facility to take huge coils of sheet steel and slice it into narrower widths. The building had been owned by a number of other companies that had operated similar facilities.

Jimmy Archer, operations manager, said it appears now that Aug. 31 will be the operation’s final day.

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“We are a small shop and we only have seven employees,” he said.

Of those seven, five will lose their jobs with Ferro Union.

“Two of us will continue with the company,” Archer said. “One will stay here in Vicksburg and I will go to Houston.”

He said the five people who will lose their jobs will receive severance packages from the company.

There are a total of 24 companies and other occupants on the Haining Center and there are more than 2,600 people employed there.

In the past several years, two larger local companies have laid off entire staffs or moved them to other locations. The Bunge Corp. laid off the 90 people it employed at its port operation home in what they called at the time a temporary closing. Hayes Marketing, which was not located at the harbor, closed with the loss of about 85 jobs.

Archer said geography has a lot to do with the company’s decision to close the local plant, but the slowing of the economy was a large factor.

He also said much of Ferro Union Southwest’s business involves flat roll steel and the slitting operation does not fit well with that type of operation.

Ferro Union customers in this area will still be served, but the product will come from the Edgcomb Metals plant in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Flat steel customers have been served from the Ferro Union plant in Houston and that will continue, Archer said.

Ferro Union sells slit steel to tubing manufacturers, makers of heating, cooling and air handling equipment and companies that make duct work and flashings.

Archer said he did not know what would happen to Ferro Union’s 55,000-square-foot local building and 11 to 12 acres of land or whether the equipment would be moved, sold in place or disposed of in some other way.

He did say Jimmy Heidel, executive vice president of the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce, took a prospective buyer to look at the building this week. Archer said he did not know if any arrangement to sell the building had been made.

Heidel confirmed that a company had looked at the building but said no deal had been negotiated.