BY DANIELLE PORTTEUS
Gerdau Special Steel North America unveiled its $ 155.6 million upgrade to the public Thursday. The Monroe mill at 3000 E. Front St. hosted a customer appreciation day in which dignitaries and the steel company’s customers were invited to tour the plant and see the improvements. The expansion project began in 2010 and included the installation of a new 10-meter continuous casting machine, along with a reheating furnace and six additional rolling mill stands.
Gerdau President Mark Marcucci thanked the mill’s customers for their continued support. “Monroe is a very impressive mill, and we are so happy about the conclusion of this project,” he said. He also thanked the Brazilianbased company for making the effort to invest in the Monroe location.
“ Gerdau saw an opportunity here, but they also understood the risk,” Mr. Marcucci said. “It was not easy to build a mill inside a mill, but it worked great.” The company president also applauded the more than 500 employees who work at the Monroe mill for their efforts. “ The work force here is strong and dedicated,” he said. “Gerdau really invested in the people in this mill.”
Darrel Moore, general plant manager, called the Monroe mill “one of the most technically advanced plants” with the upgrade. The project helped to add jobs to the plant and required a 45,000- square- foot addition to the complex. The upgrades have been in the works for about five years and are what officials called “a key milestone” for the facility.
During the tour, guides from the plant discussed the upgrades and how they have improved the mill.
One tour guide, Edward Waliczek, a three-year employee with the mill, explained how production has been improved. “ We can make up to 140 tons an hour, which is somewhere around 800,000 tons a year,” said Mr. Waliczek of Ann Arbor. “ Before, we were close to 500,000 tons annually.”
The Monroe mill’s main customers are auto companies. Its bar steel is used to make a range of automotiveparts, such as stabilizer bars and rack-andpinion components. It also supplies the agricultural and energy industries, among others.
Gerdau has facilities worldwide. Its Special Steel North America unit also has steel bar plants in Jackson and Fort Smith, Ark., as well as steel- processing plants in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio.
“ The technology in this mill will sustain the plant for years to come,” Mr. Marcucci said.