Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — Infra-Metals hosted an open house at their New Boston construction site on Wednesday to show the community the progress being made on their new steel service facility and to thank local supporters.
After more than six years of planning and site remediation, Infra-Metals signed the land purchase agreement with the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) in December to build a new $13 million steel service center. In January they awarded the general contract to J&H Erectors of Portsmouth to build a 275,000-square-foot facility on the former diesel shop property located behind Tractor Supply in New Boston. The facility will also include a barge dock on the Ohio River to transport steel material to the plant.
Helping Infra-Metals become a reality after a long planning process, the company was granted property tax abatements by the state of Ohio and the village of New Boston. The company also received site assistance, such as $100,000 from American Electric Power and $150,000 from Flour-B&W and the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative through the Department of Energy.
Don Hadsell of J&H Erectors in Portsmouth said they started construction on the facility just 24 days ago and already the building’s steel skeleton can be seen from 52-East standing just behind Tractor Supply. Hadsell praised the quick work of the building trades in southern Ohio and said doors will be open in just a few short months.
“We believe that we’re ahead of schedule. J&H indicated today that, weather permitting, we may be as much as a month ahead of schedule for opening. That’s very, very encouraging for us. I haven’t been here for three weeks, and this is a dramatic difference in the job site,” said Infra-Metals Vice President Michael Dean, looking at the steel-beam structure blossoming from the once barren brownfield site.
Dean said the deal almost never happened, after a bad first impression initially knocked New Boston out of the running for Infra-Metals locations. He said the company was convinced to give the village another look by former SOPA Chairman Bob Walton, Sr.
“This is his industrial park,” Dean said. “Bob was very instrumental. He literally chased us down the road to get us to come here. We’re sorry that he can’t be here today to see this. He was really the prime mover on this.”
Walton passed away in April 2012, but his son Bob Walton, Jr., stood in for his father at the gathering on Wednesday.
“It’s a great example of how hard work and perseverance can really come through for our area. It’s amazing what they’ve been able to do here, in just the last three weeks putting the building up. I think that dad would be incredibly proud. I’m sure he’s looking down, smiling that one of his greatest projects, the New Boston Industrial Park, is just about filled now,” Walton said.
He said his father was very proud to give back to the village of New Boston where he grew up.
“When the steel mill shut down and everything that happened, I think that he resolved in the mid-80’s to do something about it. So really this was something he had been planning for 30 years.”
In addition to Walton’s contributions, Infra-Metals took a moment to recognize the many people who have helped the company develop its facility in New Boston. The company offered a very special thanks to Fluor-B&W for their contributions to the project.
“Fluor-B&W has a community commitment fund that we take and provide to various opportunities in the community. This is exactly what Fluor-B&W is all about, to take that money and create jobs for the area,” said Tim Poe, director of nuclear operations at Fluor-B&W in Piketon.
Infra-Metals in New Boston is expected to begin production later this year and has already hired five new employees, such as Mike Longmire of Wheelersburg.
“It’s a great company to work for. They call it the black hole because once you get in you’re not getting out. I think (New Boston Infra-Metals General Manager Oak Williams) has been here for 15 years and that was the low-man on the totem pole, if that says anything. Me, personally, I’m excited to be here. I know this community and our area is desperate for something like this, and I believe it’s going to change a lot of lives here,” he said.
Longmire was hired for inside sales and he officially begins June 10, when he and other new hires are sent to Infra-Metals home office in Connecticut for training.
The New Boston Infra-Metals is located on 1 Sturgill’s Way, in the Bob Walton Sr. Industrial Park — named for SOPA Board Members Mick Sturgill (retired) and the late Walton Sr. For more information about the company, visit them online at www.infra-metals.com.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.