Ellwood Group Diversifies with $60M Aluminum Plant

HUBBARD TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The $60 million aluminum slab and billet plant that Ellwood Group Inc. plans to build here to house its new Ellwood Aluminum division has been three years in the making, officials say, with the green light coming this spring from the parent company’s board of directors.

The 70,000-square-foot plant will be built at the site of Ellwood Engineered Castings, 7158 Hubbard Masury Road. That plant employs about 100, says Patrick F. Callihan, president of Ellwood Engineered Castings, who is overseeing the expansion. Once operating at full capacity, the new aluminum plant is expected to employ 34.

“We’ve signed on with an engineering firm in Indiana, and we’re working on the final layouts,” Callihan says. “We’ll break ground as soon as we get permits to install from the Ohio EPA, which we’re expecting in mid- to late October.”

Several general contractors are bidding on the job and a decision will be made within “four- to six weeks,” he adds.

The project, announced Wednesday, was made public following the approval of a 60%, 10-year enterprise zone agreement by the Trumbull County Board of Commissioners. It signals the Ellwood Group’s first venture into nonferrous metal, and will enable the company to widen its focus beyond steel to better serve the tool and die, aerospace forging, plate mill rolling and extrusion industries.

For 108 years, the family-owned business — now in its fourth generation of leadership, has used steel to produce engineered, heavy metal sections for capital specialty equipment manufacturers. Nearly all of its products are made to customers’ specifications.

“Producing aluminum is quite different than producing steel. It’s a big step from steel to aluminum,” Callihan says.

“We’re doing our due diligence, working with contractors and suppliers from whom we plan on purchasing equipment. And we plan on hiring very skilled people in key positions to alleviate that learning curve.”

The timetable calls for the plant to begin operations during the first quarter of 2020. The workforce will turn out a projected 150 million pounds of large round aluminum billet and slabs annually.

“We’re going to be a secondary producer,” Callihan says.

Aluminum scrap will be purchased, placed into a gas-fired furnace, and remelted. “We’ll add elements to it, like magnesium and silica, to bring the aluminum to the chemistry each customer requires,” he explains. “Then we’ll clean it, refine it and cast it.”

Ellwood Engineered Castings, a gray and ductile iron foundry, was established in 1992 when the Ellwood Group purchased the assets of the bankrupt Valley-Vulcan Mold plant here. Major products include ingot molds used by specialty steel and alloy producers for teeming ingots. These producers include its sister division, Ellwood Quality Steels, which is building a $60 million addition to its plant in New Castle, Pa., that will house new arc remelting and electroslag remelting processes.

 Above: Ellwood Quality Steels construction site in New Castle, Pa.

Parent company Ellwood Group Inc. consists of nine operating business units that encompass multiple plants in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Canada. Annual sales are in excess of $1 billion, according to the company’s website.

Ellwood Aluminum represents the parent company’s 10th operating division. In developing a customer base for the new plant, “Our focus is going to be more on the forging and plate applications,” says Callihan.

He credits the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber for putting together the incentive package “that really helped that we would build the facility here in Hubbard.”

The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber worked with the company for more than 18 months to land the project, according to Lauren Johnson, manager of 422 Project and Business Development.

Among the support the chamber provided the Ellwood Group, Johnson says, was detailed aluminum supply chain information, securing needed utility upgrades and coordinating development assistance from Hubbard Township, the Ohio Rail Development Commission and the state of Ohio.

Still, it took new federal tax laws for the Ellwood Group to give the final go-ahead, says Ben Huffman, chief operating officer.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed last year, was “a big shot in the arm, helping to justify this important project, bringing high-paying manufacturing jobs back to Ohio and the United States,” Huffman said in announcing the project. “We appreciate the President Trump’s efforts to make that happen.”

Pictured at top: Ellwood Engineering Castings plant in Hubbard Township. The aluminum plant will be built at the site.

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