Former U.S. Steel Building in McDonald Sells for $875,000

MCDONALD, Ohio — A startup manufacturer is breathing new life into a production facility once owned by U.S. Steel Corp.

The Mandrel Group has for the last several months occupied a 275,000-square-foot manufacturing building that was at one time part of the steel giant’s McDonald Works, says company president, Tim Merlin.

“We’ve been in here for the last three months or so getting things ready to roll,” Merlin says.  “We’ve already got some work in here.”

The Mandrel Group was formed earlier this year and specializes in manufacturing and reconditioning mandrels, which are cylinders used in the steel-coiling process, Merlin says.  “We’re going to manufacture steel mill equipment, we’ve set up quite a few machines and we’ll be installing more and more equipment.”

A related but separate company, CMBM Realty LLC, purchased the building and 12.8 acres for $875,000 on Aug. 9, according to data provided by the Trumbull County auditor’s office.  According to records, McDonald Industrial Development LLC was the building’s previous owner.

The building is in the McDonald Industrial Park, which was formed after U.S. Steel shut down its sprawling McDonald Works in 1979. 

A portion of the McDonald Works mill was salvaged and sold to a group of investors who then formed McDonald Steel Corp. in 1981. That company has remained in production for the last 40 years at the park.

Other buildings at the site were used for storage, razed, or sold off separately and subsequently leased. 

“It’s pretty cool,” Merlin says of the landmark industrial site, noting a portion of his building was recently occupied by Amrod Bridge & Iron, while another tenant leases space in the building. “The Amrod guys did a great job renovating this. Right now, we have a lot of space, so we’re looking to lease what’s empty.”

In June, The Mandrel Group acquired The Fessler Machine Co. in Sharon, Pa., and plans to consolidate those operations in McDonald, Merlin says. Fessler produces components such as hydraulic rotating distributors, gears and gearboxes, hydraulic cylinders, and valves for the steel industry.

Fessler proved a logical fit because the company produced a sealing technology that is used on the back of mandrels, Merlin says. The Mandrel Group plans to continue to manufacture and repair Fessler components.

The Mandrel Group has seven employees, but Merlin says the company’s three-year plan is to have between 30 and 40 working from the site.

“We’re a general machine shop that specializes in mandrels,” Merlin says. The operation plans to manufacture new and reconditioned equipment for the steel mills. “We have large and small machining centers, large and small lathes, a whole gearing division, and hydraulic test stands.”

Merlin says the new company is “just getting off the ground” but is preparing to serve a market that encompasses all of North America.  

“The mills are really busy,” Merlin says, noting that the company is ready to bid new jobs when these mills begin routine maintenance work in the coming months.   

“We have orders in place and look to be on the front lines when mills undergo outages in the fall,” he says.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.