Steel Dynamics Inc. is investing $75 million for a major expansion to its rolling capacity in Pittsboro, just west of Indianapolis, CEO Mark Millett said Thursday.
The project will broaden the Fort Wayne-based companys product range and diversify the mix it produces at its Columbia City mill, which will create the feedstock – or raw material – for Pittsboros expanded engineered bar products operation.
Although few new jobs are expected to be created in the Columbia City operation as a result, current workers there will see their hours increase when the new equipment comes on line in about 12 months, Millett said.
The Whitley County plant now primarily makes heavy structural beams. That market, the CEO said, has been quite weak. Steel Dynamics has chosen to reduce workers hours during recessionary times rather than implement layoffs. The additional hours will bring more of the workforce to full-time status.
Most of the $75 million central Indiana project cost will be allocated to buying and installing new equipment, Millett said.
A smaller slice of the budget will be used to expand the Hendricks County factory.
New machinery will allow Steel Dynamics to make steel bars with diameters less than 3 5/8 inches, Millett said. About half of the special bar quality market demand falls in that range, he said.
The steel bars are used to make autos, off-road equipment and manufactured goods, including washers, dryers and refrigerators.
By offering more selection in its product line, Steel Dynamics will save customers shipping costs, Millett said. Customers will be able to load more sizes of the high-quality products they need onto the transport trucks they send to Pittsboro, he said.
With the expansion, Steel Dynamics Pittsboro plant, which began production in January 2004, will become the largest single site for engineered bar production in North America, Millett said.
SMS Meer, a German company, has been awarded the expansion contract.
On Oct. 17, Steel Dynamics reported third-quarter earnings of $12.8 million, or 6 cents per diluted share, on net sales of $1.7 billion.
The companys shares closed Thursday at $13.45, up 81 cents in trading on the Nasdaq stock market.