After 86 Years In City, Steel Firm To Close With Sale To Ohio Company

Posted: October 06, 1987

Philadelphia Steel & Wire Co., a manufacturer of steel products since 1901, has sold its equipment to an Ohio firm and plans to cease production on Nov. 6 in a move that will leave most of its more than 100 employees unemployed.

"We have sold the company, and the new owners are moving the equipment," George Hynson, Philadelphia Steel's chairman and owner, said yesterday.

He said the company's new owner, American Spring Wire Co. of Bedford Heights, Ohio, had offered employment to a handful of workers. But more than 100 employees will lose their jobs. The average employee has been at Philadelphia Steel & Wire about 17 years, Hynson said.

Philadelphia Steel & Wire has produced a variety of steel products, such as strip steel and wire. Originally located in Germantown, the firm moved to its present location, 2828 Charter Rd., near the Northeast Philadelphia Airport, in 1968.

Hynson said he was forced to close the firm because of pressure from foreign competition and high utility and labor costs. He declined to give details of the company's finances, but said the firm has been losing money for ''several years" and incurred "very significant" losses this past year.

"You can go on and on. Steel wire has not been one of the great growth businesses," he said.

Webster Christman, vice president for research at the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., said that since the late 1970s, the city has been losing energy-intensive firms such as Philadelphia Steel & Wire.

During the Carter administration, the federal government imposed tougher air-quality standards on companies that operate in the nation's cities. Those standards increased energy costs for companies such as Philadelphia Steel & Wire.

Wardell Lamberton, an official of Local 404 of the United Steelworkers of America's Upholstery and Allied Industries Division, which represents workers at the firm, said the company's problems became critical in the last 18 months.

He said that in February workers agreed to an assortment of pay and benefit cuts aimed at saving the company about $1 million in operating costs. But even those cuts apparently were not enough.

Hynson said the company was working with the Philadelphia Area Labor Management Committee to find new employment for the company's workers. The committee comprises labor and business groups, the Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Valley Manufacturers Association.

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