S&S Steel to buy Plant 20, add 150 jobs

June 21, 2010

S&S Steel to buy Plant 20, add 150 jobs

ANDERSON, Ind. — A family-owned steel industry that 16 years ago moved into a former General Motors plant announced Monday that it would redouble its commitment and buy a second vacant GM site with a goal of growing from 150 to 300 workers in the next five years.

S&S Steel Services on Monday signed a contract with the Anderson Redevelopment Commission to purchase the former Delco Remy Plant 20 from the city. S&S will pay $1.5 million for the vacant 350,000-square-foot building north of 38th Street and east of Scatterfield Road.

“Our top priority is to be a good employer in the community,” said S&S President Barry Sharp, who noted the company announced its move to Anderson from Muncie nearly 16 years ago Monday.

“We want to provide a good service to customers,” he said. “We just want to do a good job. … Our desire is to be an asset to the community.”

That’s a theme that Mayor Kris Ockomon spoke on as the proposal was presented to the commission.

“This is an expansion of an existing business, which is very exciting,” Ockomon said. “We love to grow.

“This is one of the most important steps taken since this administration has been in office,” he said. “Your commitment to the city is there, they have the track record … folks, it’s time to sell this building and I couldn’t be happier than to sell this building to S&S Steel.”

City officials stressed that 80 percent of job creation comes from existing local business, and credited S&S for surpassing the promises it made when it moved into Plant 15 in 1994. At that time, Sharp said he hoped the business would grow to 100 workers.  

Sharp was joined by his family — wife Sheree, son Zachary and daughter Shannon, all of whom work in the company. He said that when callers had approached him about buying the company, he told them they would have to pry it away from his children.

Sharp praised the “awesome” work force at S&S and got a quick second from Shannon, his assistant, and Zachary, the plant manager.

“They exceed expectations constantly,” Shannon said.

S&S operates in the former Delco Remy Plant 15 on 29th Street, and plans to remain in that building even after expanding into Plant 20. S&S will ask for tax abatement on six new steel processing machines and plans to invest $1.75 million in Plant 20, according to the city.

Sharp said S&S plans to begin hiring as soon as new equipment is installed in Plant 20 after it closes on the building on July 31. According to city documents, S&S jobs will average an hourly wage of $17, including overtime, bonuses and benefits.

Sharp declined to divulge financial information about the company, but he told commission members that the company’s desire to diversify had helped it weather the past several years, which have been difficult for industry in particular.

“We didn’t do layoffs in 2009,” Sharp said, though he acknowledged there were some jobs lost to attrition that were not immediately filled. Employment never fell below 135 workers, he said.

Along with supplying raw material to varied businesses, Sharp said S&S’s territory ranges to Texas and points north and east. “We’re not tied to the local economy,” he said, noting its sales bring money into the city from around the country.

Plant 20 in 2006 was appraised at $3.1 million, and later was offered for $2.5 million. But because of the economic downturn and other factors, the sale to S&S cleared the city books of another property it inherited from GM’s decline. Its sale will put the property back on the tax rolls and spare some public expenses.

Officials said the city last year paid about $100,000 in costs associated with building utilities, maintenance and security, including $60,000 in vandalism damage.

Contact Dave Stafford: 648-4250, dave.stafford@heraldbulletin.com


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