Welded Tube-Berkeley closes pipe plant next to Nucor mill site
A Canadian-owned pipe and tubing manufacturer next to the Nucor Steel mill in Berkeley County is closing its local factory and moving the business to its homeland.
The shutdown of Welded Tube-Berkeley was disclosed by a company official on a news website operated by American Metal Market. Most of the roughly 50 affected workers already have lost their jobs, the official said in the report.
The company sold its products primarily to the construction industry, which has been struggling to regain its footing since the economy began to falter more than four years ago.
Maryann Wagner, president of Welded Tube-Berkeley, confirmed the closing in a brief interview.
“We’re transferring our operations to Canada,” said Wagner, who declined to take more questions and could not be reached for further comment Wednesday.
The closing of the North Steel Circle plant is expected to be finalized by early September.
The work and some equipment from the Huger operation is being transferred to a pipe- and tube-making factory that Weld Tube of Canada Ltd. owns in Concord, Ont., executive Jef Fry told amm.com.
Fry could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The plant was built by AMS Tube in the late 1990s to take steel directly from the neighboring Nucor mill and transform it into fire sprinkler pipes and other products. Welded Tube of Canada acquired the business around 2004 and spent $3 million on improvements.
In 2009 the company announced that it was adding new equipment in Huger to make a heavier grade of piping after U.S. trade sanctions forced Chinese manufacturers to abandon that market.
On its website, Welded Tube said the local plant had been cranking out about 100,000 tons of steel goods annually.
Giff Daughtridge, general manager of Nucor Steel-Berkeley, said the company was a good source of business for the mill.
“It actually was a small part of our overall tonnage, but as an on-site customer they were valuable to us,” he said Wednesday.
Daughtridge described Welded Tube-Berkeley as “a bit of a victim of a poor economy.”
“A lot of what they made was for new construction, and construction is very weak,’ he said.
Reach John McDermott at 937-5572.