Kentucky Electric Steel

Activity at the SWVA plant on Tuesday. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

COALTON Boyd County received some great news Tuesday: a once idled rolling mill will be back up and running in a matter of weeks.

SWVA Kentucky confirmed in a statement to The Daily Independent that they plan to re-open the mill, with about 40 employees back to work sometime next week. The plant on South Big Run Road in Boyd County was previously known as Kentucky Electric Steel, and some workers have already been observed working at the site.

“I am excited to announce that SWVA Kentucky, LLC plans to start producing steel in November,” said SWVA KY Mill Manager Larry Black in a statement sent to to the newspaper.

“The rolling mill located just outside of Ashland has been idle since March of this year, but we plan to be up and running soon,” Black said. “Since our parent company, Steel Dynamics, Inc., acquired the plant from Specialty Steel Works Incorporated on September 18, we have been in the plant getting it ready to begin production again. By the beginning of next week, we should have about 40 employees working. We expect to have over 60 employees once production has ramped up.”

Local economic development officials and government leaders are ecstatic over the news.

“Of course it is great news when one of our longstanding companies has new life,” said Tim Gibbs, executive director of Ashland Alliance. “If you look at the parent company Steel of West Virginia and what they are doing in Wurtland, Huntington, and now at SWVA Kentucky, they have had significant growth, and this is a strong company.”

In January Kentucky Electric Steel announced it was closing, meaning at least 113 people faced losing their jobs. The mill has in the past produced bar flats for both generic and specialty applications. Many of its products were sold to the leaf-spring suspension market for use in light and heavy-duty trucks.

In September Steel Dynamics Inc. announced the completion of the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of KES for $5 million. The assets were described primarily as a rolling mill with an annual capacity of 250,000 tons. The facility will be operated as part of Steel Dynamics’ Steel of West Virginia operations.

Boyd County Judge Executive Steve Towler said the re-opening of the facility is greatly welcomed.

“We are tickled to have the jobs,” Towler said, adding the county was optimistic that the plant would get new ownership.

Black said he’s been impressed with the local workforce.

“I have been very impressed with the ‘get it done’ attitude of the current employees,” said Black. “This energetic, positive, driven and innovative attitude is the backbone of our culture.”

Black said former Kentucky Electric Steel (“KES”) employees will be given first consideration at SWVA KY. For people not formerly employed by KES, SWVA KY is only accepting resumes for industrial electricians. Experienced industrial electricians can submit resumes to hr@swvaky.com.

“The plant re-opening benefits the local economy and our customers,” Black said. “SWVA KY and the SWVA plant in Huntington, West Virginia share many common customers. SWVA KY allows us to better serve our customers with the additional product offerings. We have been receiving very positive feedback from the customers about this,” said Black.

Gibbs said he also thinks there are some positive trends at hand for both the steel industry and the local economy.

“You've got a strong American economy and there has been a higher demand for steel products,” Gibbs said. “The tariffs on steel and closing some of the loopholes on steel has made a difference as well.”

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gpuit@dailyindependent.com

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