Tube City Almanac

April 09, 2011

Welcome Back

Category: Commentary/Editorial || By

I'm glad this announcement was made on Friday, April 8. If it had been made a week earlier, no one would have believed it.

Actually, the news (broken by the Daily News this morning) that U.S. Steel will resume operations of the electric-resistance weld pipe mill in McKeesport is less surprising than you may think. Although the mill has been operated by the independent Camp-Hill Corp. since Feb. 1988, it's remained under a larger U.S. Steel umbrella.

If you went to U.S. Steel's website and looked for "tubular products," and then clicked on "manufacturing facilities," one of the plants that showed up was in "McKeesport, Pa." Camp-Hill has been shipping and selling pipe to U.S. Steel customers for years. And I'd hazard that many if not most of the steel coils being used at Camp-Hill were coming from U.S. Steel's Irvin Works.

Also, before we break out the champagne and parades, it's worth noting that about 150 people work at the ERW mill. National Works employed more than 7,000 in the 1970s. Absent some major expansion by U.S. Steel, the number of people being employed and the amount of taxes collected by the city won't change.

This is not a sign of booming prosperity to come. Not that much will be different inside or outside the mill gates on May 1, when U.S. Steel resumes control of the plant.

But please don't misconstrue my remarks. I'm not being negative. This is good news. I was on Market Street on Friday morning, and saw that the Camp-Hill sign was down, and the old U.S. Steel sign --- emerging like a ghost from the past --- made me smile. Time must heal all wounds, because I never thought seeing a U.S. Steel logo in McKeesport would make me happy.

(Of course, I also never thought I'd be a U.S. Steel shareholder, either, but in the interest of unbiased reporting, I should disclose that I am one.)

McKeesport should be very grateful to former National Works managers Pat Campana and A.L. Hillegass (a McKeesport High School grad), who kept the ERW mill operating for more than two decades, making good quality products and keeping hard-working people employed. Nothing can take away from the accomplishments of Camp-Hill Corp.

However: Most people weren't really sure what "Camp-Hill Corp." did. They know what "U.S. Steel" means.

Though it's much diminished in size, a major international manufacturing company is once again flying its flag over McKeesport. If you're trying to promote the Mon-Yough area (which Tube City Online does, sometimes shamelessly), having a Fortune 500 company in town isn't a bad talking point.

So, yes, this is a morale boost, not a financial boost. We'll take small victories when we get them. Thanks, Camp-Hill Corp. Welcome back, Big Steel.

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Morale boosts are also what McKeesport needs! I think this is great news, and the exact type of positive influence the city needs right now! In this time of an interim mayor, uncertainty about funding, and continued concern for the future, right now is the very best time to hear something so positive for the city!
DeniseR (URL) - April 09, 2011

Great news story and like the other poster said, just the kind of news this town needs to hear.

Who knows…you never know….later expansion could happen just due to that name recognition.
shadango - April 11, 2011

Good article Jason. Anyone whose family was hurt by the demise of The National Tube has to be a bit skeptical about USS but I am glad for the city and the workers that the plant will remain open. It had been rumored for a few years that it could close. I also hope that the new flyover ramp, once completed will make the entire site more attractive to perspective businesses.
Paul - April 12, 2011

I just happened on this story of ERW being taken over by USSteel. This is dega vu for me. In 1964 when I was 18 and working in the National Works shipping department they opened up the ERW and I bid a pipe loader postion in the shipping department, we were a four man crew, one of the fellows was my age and named Dan Maha, another was Milan. I left the steel industry in 1970 and retired from CSX Railroad out of Hagerstown Md. I always have fond memories of working at the National Works. I hope this is good news for the Mckeesport area. The steel valley was a wonderful place to grow up in, I lived in Lincoln Place, and my whole family was involved with USSteel.

John Stock
John Stock - April 20, 2011

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