Updated: McDonald Steel to End Its Storied History

McDONALD, Ohio – McDonald Steel announced Tuesday that it will cease operations toward the end of 2023, a decision the company described as “prudent” given the need for more than $60 million in plant improvements.

In a statement, the company said it will exit the special shapes business segment and cease operating its 14-inch hot rolled steel rolling mill by the end of the third quarter, and its special shapes business segment will cease operations near the end of 2023.

A subsequent email Wednesday afternoon from a company spokesman clarified that “the facility is not closing; only the 14-inch hot rolled steel operations will cease.”

“After a thorough review and discussion, McDonald senior leadership and the Board determined that closing the mill was the only prudent economic decision,” the company’s first statement said. “While McDonald Steel has invested more than $26.1 million in capital improvements and $12 million in routine maintenance and repairs and has paid more than $200 million in wages over the past 40 years since the steel mill reopened in 1981, the 100-year-old facility would require an untenable additional investment to operate efficiently and reliably while only serving a limited market.

“Approximately 80 employees will be impacted. McDonald Steel is committed to supporting its employees, customers, shareholders and the community through the transition in the weeks and months ahead,” the statement concluded.

Members of Teamsters Local 377 were notified Tuesday during an employee meeting, according to Ralph “Sam” Cook, Local 377 secretary/treasurer. News of the closing was first reported by WFMJ, who quoted Cook as its primary source.

In November 2021, following passage of the $1 trillion federal infrastructure, McDonald Steel president Jim Grasso said the plant was busy and he was “optimistic that it will even get busier.”

Grasso said the bill appropriates more than $100 billion for bridges and close to $75 billion for railways, two of McDonald Steel’s major segments. The company produces custom-engineered hot rolled shapes used in bridge decking, expansion joints and other applications.

In October 2022, company subsidiary Mac Steel GSC Inc. acquired the assets of Cleveland-based General Steel Corp., a steel service center that specializes in the processing of steel plate. There is no word as of this posting regarding General Steel Corp. operations.

McDonald Steel opened its doors in 1981 in the wake of the shutdowns in the steel industry across the Mahoning Valley. The plant was originally part of U.S. Steel’s McDonald Works, which was constructed in 1918 by Tom McDonald, one of Andrew Carnegie’s chief associates. 

In March 2021, McDonald Steel marked 40 years in operation.

“Portions of McDonald Steel Corp.’s plant are still punctuated with brick pathways, reminiscent of an age in manufacturing that began here during the era of Andrew Carnegie. An original pusher furnace that dates to the 1920s sits idle, juxtaposed with a modern walking hearth furnace that on a cold February morning is fired up and ready for production,” the Business Journal reported.  

In the story, Dan O’Brien detailed the company’s rich history. CLICK HERE to read “A Solid 40 Years for McDonald Steel.”

Pictured at top: A steel bar that will be processed into bridge components moves down the 14-inch production mill. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.