Kasich Visits Idled Rolling Mill

By LINDA HARRIS – Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

YORKVILLE – Gov. John Kasich hinted Friday that Esmark Steel’s plans to
reopen an idled cold-rolling mill in Yorkville could be just the tip of the

Esmark Chairman and CEO Jim Bouchard said the Kasich administration was
instrumental in closing the $6.5 million deal for the Yorkville mill,
working with his company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to
develop a remediation plan that addresses unresolved chemical spills that
former owner RG Steel neglected to correct two years ago.

In addition to the Yorkville mill, which will be known as Ohio Cold Rolling
Co., Bouchard also acquired a 50 percent ownership stake in the nearby Ohio
Coatings Co. tin plating facility, partnering with South Korea’s TCC Steel.

Both mills were acquired from bankrupt RG Steel, which also sold its
property in Steubenville to River Rail Development LLC, a division of
Wheeling-based Strauss Industries, and its Mingo Junction plant to New
York-based salvage company Frontier Industrial.

Asked whether his staff had been involved in discussions about the future of
either of those properties, Kasich said, “We know all about those

“The Steubenville property, to my understanding, is going to see good things
happen there with the (new owner) being able to come in and perhaps lease
some of the more valuable parts of that,” the governor said. “It’s another
thing our Ohio EPA had to be involved with, to make sure we can clear the
hurdles. It’s good news it’s not like we hit a grand slam; we’re getting
singles, maybe a double here and there, but we’ve got to do a lot more.”

Kasich, meanwhile, credited Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally with “coming to
the rescue” after legacy environmental issues threatened to derail
Bouchard’s acquisition of the Yorkville plant.

“He’s not a pushover. If you do something bad to the environment, he’s going
to call you on it,” Kasich said. “But he also has common sense. He was able
to take authority over this operation … out of the hands of the federal
EPA into the hands of Ohio EPA. As a result, we can have more common sense,
more active development here, and they’re still going to clean things up.”

The governor told workers and dignitaries gathered outside the plant Friday
that “there’s no reason we can’t be optimistic about the future.” He said at
a minimum, it means work for 165 idled steelworkers at Yorkville alone, “but
I think the numbers will be bigger than that.”

“This is a good day,” he said. “People will be people coming back to work,
more people I think, than they’ve already announced. … It’s a great start,
and it’s good news for us. There’s no reason we can’t be optimistic about
the future.”

He stressed that state and local leaders need to figure out how to maximize
the Ohio River’s development potential.

“It’s going take folks with some really creative thinking, but it’s
important with what we’re going to see from oil and gas and the companies
that spin off from that,” he said. “It’s just going to take time.”

Now that the Yorkville plant is in the Esmark stable, Bouchard said he’s
planning to invest another $15 million to $20 million to get it up and

“Everybody I talked to this morning basically said I was out of my mind,” he
admitted. “The state of the steel business globally and here in the U.S. is
bad, and here we are committing $20 million-plus to start up the Yorkville
cold mill. Do people think I’m nuts? Yes. But I think we’ve got a good plan.
I think the workers are up to it. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re up
to the challenge.”

“I think all the positives will outweigh (conditions) at this point in time
in the steel market,” he added. “But it would be a heck of a lot easier if
the steel market was humming along.”