MARIETTA -Eramet Marietta on Tuesday will celebrate its 60th year of operation at the plant on Ohio 7 north of Belpre.
''We are thrilled and proud to be celebrating a milestone like 60 years, because it speaks to the hard work that went into building this plant and the hard work by everyone who has worked here to keep it operational," said John Willoughby, CEO of Eramet Marietta. "It's unfortunate, but there are not a lot of heavy industrial companies who make it 60 years these days."
Eramet and Felman Productions of Letart, W.Va., about 40 miles away, are the last two ferromanganese plants in North America.
The baghouse installed in 2012 on Eramet’s largest electric arc furnace, Furnace 1, reduced plant emissions.
Eramet will hold a 60th anniversary celebration for colleagues, partners and friends from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Tours of the plant, refreshments and comments by plant and local officials will be made.
Visitors will explore the plant's past through a display of historic artifacts and photos, view the present-day operations and learn about the company's plans for a sustainable future, company officials said.
Timeline of Recent Improvements
In early 2012 - Eramet learned it received partial approval for financing for a water service project that will provide water from the Ohio River to Eramet Marietta as well as several other companies along Ohio 7. Additional funding information is expected in late January, with construction to begin soon thereafter. Completion of the project is slated for fourth quarter 2012.
In late 2011 - the company received final approvals from its parent company for an estimated $11 million overhaul of its outdated mixhouse/raw material handling department. The mixhouse project should be completed in 2013.
In early 2011 - Eramet Marietta connected a $9 million Baghouse emissions abatement system to its No. 1 furnace, further cutting emissions from the largest of the plant's electric arc furnaces.
In May 2010 - Eramet Marietta performed the "first tap" on its rebuilt Furnace 12, the capstone of a $15 million renovation project aimed at improving and adding flexibility to the furnace's production capabilities while improving its environmental performance.
In Feb. 2010 - Eramet Marietta completed the first two phases of a plant security and rerouting project aimed at making the plant and its facilities more secure and changing traffic routes to improve production efficiencies and employee safety.
On May 23, 2008 - Eramet Marietta performed the "first tap" on its rebuilt Furnace 1 the largest of the company's electric arc furnaces. This milestone completed the first phase of a total $20 million project to rebuild Furnace 1 and add a state-of-the-art baghouse emissions abatement system to the same furnace. This project will reduce particulate emissions from Furnace 1 by 54 percent and plant particulate emissions by 20 percent.
On Aug. 30, 2008 - Eramet Marietta CEO Frank Bjorklund announced a vision to transform the facility's manganese alloy manufacturing operations. Projected to cost more than $150 million, the goal of the vision, while dependent on multiple contingencies, is to upgrade the plant's electric-arc furnaces and related equipment to vastly improve operational and environmental performance.
The plant was built in the early 1950s with production beginning in 1952 as a part of a huge Union Carbide industrial complex, including a number of multiple business units. Those units, which today include Eramet Marietta, Energizer, Solvay and America's Styrenics were eventually sold as a part of the company's strategy.
In 1982, Union Carbide sold its manganese and chromium business units to Elkem Metals, a Norwegian company. The Eramet Group purchased the Marietta facility from Elkem in 1999.
''Back in 1948 when Union Carbide announced it would locate a facility here, it's safe to say that the influx of jobs helped grow the Mid-Ohio Valley in population and in businesses that set up shop here to serve Union Carbide,'' Willoughby said. ''We've heard estimates that at its peak, the Union Carbide Complex employed about 11,000 people.
''That means, based on a family of four, 44,000 people were directly impacted by the plants here. Over the years, the introduction of new technologies, as well as economic fluctuations and stronger environmental regulations, have meant those employee numbers have dwindled to somewhere around 600. That's a huge drop, yes. Our plant alone has gone from over 350 when I started here in 2008 to just over 200. But that's still 200 good-paying jobs supporting the production of alloys that make steel stronger, more flexible and lighter. Those numbers seem grim. But they really are a sign of the times.''
Eramet Marietta, a metallurgical manufacturing company, belongs to the Manganese Division of Paris-based Eramet Group. Importing manganese from Gabon, the plant produces and sells manganese ferroalloys to the North American steel industry. Eramet Marietta is the only producer of refined ferro-manganese in the U.S. and is one of two silicomanganese producers in the U.S.
The company produces silicomanganese, high-carbon ferromanganese, medium-carbon ferromanganese and low-carbon ferromanganese for such companies as U.S. Steel, Arcelor Mittal, Nucor and Steel Dynamics, all of which account for 70 percent of Eramet Marietta's sales. These products are used in the manufacturing of structural steel, oil and gas pipeline pipes and tubes, power-generation equipment, steel cable, guardrails, automotive parts, paperclips, mining equipment and more.
''Based on our employment numbers, vendors, tax base and other expenses, our estimated impact on the area is in excess of $65 million annually,'' Willoughby said.
In addition to its business, the company works hard to be a part of the community, not just a company that writes a check, he said.
''We do that two ways at the end of every year I sit down with a group of employees and we evaluate the sponsorships and donations we've made to determine how they impacted our area,'' Willoughby said. ''We want to be a part of events and dedicate resources to those things that contribute to health and welfare, safety of our employees and residents, education of the next generation and generally make the Mid-Ohio Valley a great place to live.
''Our sponsorships this year include the Sternwheel Festival, high school sports, ReStore Marietta, EVE, Ohio Chautauqua, Thunder Road, Secret Santa, food pantries, Fourth of July fireworks, Parkersburg Homecoming, the Marietta City Schools Achievement banquet, youth league soccer and baseball and many others.''
The other way they get involved is through an employee fund they established which allows each employee to request and receive a small donation for events and fundraisers related to community organizations important to them.
''Our employees are the backbone of this plant and it is essential to me that we support them when they're here at work, and when they're away from the plant as well,'' Willoughby said. ''Our employees truly are Eramet Marietta. They encompass a tenacity and innovative spirit that is unmatched in anywhere I've worked in my career.
''Workplace culture is a big topic in business these days, and if I could define the culture at Eramet, I'd say it is dedicated work ethic. And that hasn't changed in the 60 years and all of the employees who have worked in this plant, day-in and day-out. This is not easy work, what we do here; everyone knows that. But it is work that matters. Our employees past and present understand that.''