New Castle News

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January 12, 2012

Steel business expanding in Union Township

NEW CASTLE — You could say Jeffrey Stitt has been swallowed up by his work — or at least his building.

His business, Harbor Steel, has grown. Literally.

A new 62,348-square-foot structure now covers the almost 16,000-square-foot building occupied by the steel fabricators on Route 422 in Union Township.

“We put the roof on last week,” said Stitt, president and owner. “We’ll be putting the garage doors on this week. That will completely close us in.”

The project began June 1. Stitt expects it will be completed by April.

Harbor Steel has been at its current location since 1969. The prefabricated building was constructed in 1953 by Presidential Steel Buildings of Ambridge.

The unique project — surrounding an existing building with a larger one — allowed Stitt to continue his operation through the construction phase.

“We’ve needed this expansion for a long time.”

“We’re a job shop,” he explained. “We make products for mills and heavy industry.” Customers include Allegheny Ludlum, Alcoa, Acelar-Mattel, Ellwood Forge and Ellwood Quality Steel.

Stitt said his existing building was not large enough or tall enough to accommodate the orders he was receiving. Also, it was not insulated and “just outdated.

In the previous building, the tallest point was 14 feet. “This limited the sizes of what we could create,” he explained. In the new building, the lowest point is 23 feet.

Stitt would not say what the project cost.

“This is an investment,” he said. “We’re here to stay.”

Linda Nitch of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp., said Stitt had talked about the expansion project for 18 to 24 months before getting underway.

“We offered to help them to fund the project,” she said, “But he didn’t take our help. He decided to do it alone.”

Nitch said the development corporation obtains funding through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Fund, which it makes available at 2 percent low-interest loans for developers.

Not every one accepts help, Nitch said. “For some, there are just too many hoops to jump through.”

Stitt agreed. “We went with PNC Bank. Rates are already low.”

The development corporation might have offered a better rate, Stitt said, but he could not guarantee he would meet some requirements, including creating one new job for every $35,000 borrowed.

Stitt said he plans to hire more people “eventually” but, “They would have required me to double my 18-member workforce in three years,” he said. “I didn’t think that I could make that guarantee.”

 

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