published Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Steel Warehouse's expansion in Chattanooga will add jobs

Rick Hooper, inside sales manager, explains the processing of the steel coils inside of the Steel Warehouse in Chattanooga. Steel Warehouse is updating its machines so that the company will be able to process coils up to an inch thick, instead of 5/8ths of an inch thick.  Hooper hopes to be able to cater to a larger pool of consumers.
Staff Photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Rick Hooper, inside sales manager, explains the processing of the steel coils inside of the Steel Warehouse in Chattanooga. Steel Warehouse is updating its machines so that the company will be able to process coils up to an inch thick, instead of 5/8ths of an inch thick. Hooper hopes to be able to cater to a larger pool of consumers. Staff Photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press

ABOUT STEEL WAREHOUSE


• Parent: Lerman Enterprises of South Bend, Ind.

• History: Steel Warehouse came to Chattanooga in 2005

• Location: Centre South Riverport

• Employees: 80

A Chattanooga steel processing company seeking to capture a new market is undergoing a multimillion-dollar expansion and plans to add jobs.

Steel Warehouse of Tennessee, which shares a Centre South Riverport facility with sister company LJT Tennessee, is buying equipment that will help it attract new clients, officials said.

The company will soon offer custom-cut plates of inch-thick steel with an improved surface finish not currently available to customers.

“Chattanooga has earned the right to be at the forefront,” said Rick Quinn, the company’s vice president.

Rick Hooper, Steel Warehouse’s inside sales manager, said it’s uncertain how many jobs might be created. That depends the eventual size of the market and customer base, he said.

Currently, Steel Warehouse has about 80 workers, Hooper said, while LJT Tennessee has another 110.

Officials said the company will be the only steel service center in the Southeast with equipment able to process steel of that thickness. It should sharply increase the volume of hot-rolled coil steel shipped through the Riverport, they said.

Quinn said the steel plates are used in such sectors as bridge building, construction equipment and steel poles.

“We want to be on the leading edge,” he said.

Hooper said the new equipment will allow the end user to buy a product on which length can be easily adjusted.

“It helps him to reduce scrap,” he said.

Plans are to have the equipment installed and operational by year’s end, Quinn said.

The company will focus on training employees first and then add workers later in 2011.

Trevor Hamilton, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for economic development, said the area’s transportation network and work force have helped the company “deliver quality products” to customers.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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