Aluminum Corp. is looking to expand into new products and
markets from its location at the former RG Steel LLC Wheeling
Corrugating Co. facility in Beech Bottom, W.Va.
The paint line, which
Jupiter is currently refurbishing and upgrading, will allow the
aluminum company to both paint wider material and also apply
two coats of paint, something it hadnt been able to do on
equipment at its existing locations in the Midwest, company
president Paul-Henri Chevalier said in a recent interview with
Ill.-based Jupiter is employing former RG employees to upgrade
the paint line as it looks to produce trial orders this summer,
Chevalier said. The company has also purchased a slitter from a
steel company that is being installed at the West Virginia
site, as Jupiter aims not only to move into new markets but
also to serve customers in East Coast and Mid-Atlantic states,
Chevalier declined to
say how much Jupiter was investing in West Virginia or what new
products the company might make, citing competitive reasons.
Nor would he say where Jupiter acquired the slitter, although
he noted that it, too, came from a steel company.
expansion in West Virginia comes as it eyes the slowly
recovering U.S. housing sector, Chevalier said. "We are still
way, way behind where this (housing) market should be," he
said. "However, you have to get ready. And you dont get
ready when the market gets to its potential. You have to get
ready before the market comes back."
Building permits were
at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 974,000 in May 2013,
down 3.1 percent from April but up 20.8 percent from May 2012,
the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data show. Housing starts
were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000 in May
2013, up 6.8 percent and 28.6 percent in the same
Housing starts have
averaged 1.5 million per year in the past, Chevalier said.
Jupiter will ramp up
production as demand increases, potentially employing as many
as 40 to 50 people in West Virginia within two years, Chevalier
said. It was in large part the availability of "fully trained"
employees that helped Jupiter decide to expand, he said.
"Most of the people
(Jupiter hires) will be former (RG) employees. ... They are
people who know how to work, know the area and know the paint
line," Chevalier said. "The paint line by itself would not have
been enough to make Jupiter jump into an adventure."
want to move the paint line because doing so would have
entailed recruiting and training new workers, he said.
While Jupiter owns the
equipment in West Virginia, it is renting building space,
including office space, from Los Angeles-based industrial real
estate firm Hackman Capital Partners LLC, Chevalier said,
noting that Hackman is making necessary repairs and maintenance
to the property.
Besides working with
skilled employees and acquiring affordable equipment, Jupiter
has found West Virginia to be a "great state to do business
in," Chevalier added.