ACT plans February opening

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 2004

AHOSKIE – Santa Claus arrived ahead of schedule here earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Indalex Aluminum Solutions Group announced it has sold the assets of its shuttered secondary billet casting plant in Ahoskie to Aluminum Casting Technology (ACT) LLC.

The plant, closed by Indalex in 2001, will re-open in February 2005, supplying aluminum billet to customers in the southeastern United States.

According to ACT officials, 25 new jobs will be created immediately. The new owners expect the workforce to double in size by mid-2005. Plans call for total employment of 80 people in 2006.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but did include a five-year supply agreement with Indalex, giving the facility its launch customer and immediate market credibility, said the new owners.

&uot;This is a wonderful present for the community in this holiday season,&uot; said Harry Phipps, one of ACT’s managing partners. &uot;There is a need for more capacity to produce aluminum billet in the marketplace, so the timing to re-open the facility is excellent.&uot;

&uot;Having Indalex, North America’s largest independent integrated aluminum extrusion company, as our launch customer gives us a running start and credibility in the marketplace. There are other aluminum extrusion companies in the area and we believe we are positioned well to supply their needs for high quality billet,&uot; said Roger Penn, ACT managing partner.

In September of 2001, Indalex closed the Ahoskie plant as a result of a decline in orders. The facility employed 83 people at that time. It had been open since 1983, first as Carolina Billets. Indalex took ownership of the plant in 1999 as part of its acquisition of Easco Aluminum.

&uot;This transaction will provide us with another source of high quality billet to support the growth of our extrusion plants in the southeast,&uot; explained Mike Alger, Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Indalex Aluminum Solutions Group. &uot;Re-opening the facility and creating new jobs in Hertford County is good for the community. We are pleased to be the launch customer for the business by signing a five-year billet supply agreement.&uot;

Phipps, principal of Metals Recycling Corp. and H.E. Phipps Co., Inc.

in Roxboro, N.C., and Penn, a former Indalex executive, have led ACT in the acquisition discussions. ACT will announce soon the hiring of an experienced plant manager for the Ahoskie facility.

&uot;The time is right to bring new billet casting capacity onto the market,&uot; noted Phipps. &uot;The Ahoskie plant is well-equipped and we have an experienced workforce in the community that is immediately available. We have plans for strategic investments in the business to support our goal of making the Ahoskie facility a world class supplier of aluminum billet that is known for its high quality and service.&uot;

Phipps expressed his company’s appreciation for the state and local efforts to re-open the Ahoskie plant.

&uot;We are grateful for the support of the North Carolina Department of Commerce at Edenton and the Hertford County Industrial Development group in consummating this transaction,&uot; he stressed.

&uot;We are excited about what is now a reality of the reopening of the old billets plant,&uot; stated Bill Early, Director of Hertford County Economic Development. &uot;It’s been a real pleasure to work with Mr. Phipps and others in regards to this project and we will continue to offer our support and our help as the reopening process moves along.&uot;

Early was also appreciative of the assistance his office received in this particular endeavor.

&uot;The support we received from the Department of Commerce and the Northeast Partnership was outstanding,&uot; he said. &uot;We all work as a team for the betterment of our economic future.&uot;

In June of this year, members of the Hertford County Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority opened the door for ACT by approving an inducement resolution/agreement. At that meeting in Winton, Phipps said his company was looking at an initial investment of up to $7.5 million to acquire, rehabilitate and equip the plant.

When asked by an Authority member concerning wages at the proposed facility, Phipps said his firm would follow the terms of the inducement agreement that calls for, &uot;above the average weekly manufacturing wage in Hertford County or not less than 10 percent above the average weekly manufacturing wage paid in North Carolina.&uot;

The facility will operate in a similar fashion to its predecessor, that of taking scrap material and casting it into a billet, which is used to make various aluminum products. From an environmental standpoint, the plant requires only a &uot;minor air quality permit,&uot; noted Phipps.

&uot;The aluminum casting process is a fairly simple procedure,&uot; he noted. &uot;Environmental concerns are not an issue. What little emission there is from the process will be handled with the latest technology available.&uot;

According to Charles Revelle III, Hertford County’s attorney and legal counsel for the Authority, the inducement resolution/agreement passed by the Authority was the initial step ACT needed to become involved with a financial lender. That firm would agree to lend the $7.5 million Phipps estimates will be needed to open the plant. That money will come from industrial revenue bonds issued to Hertford County by the lender. No taxpayer money is involved. Repayment of the bonds is the responsibility of ACT.

&uot;The Authority deemed this project to be in the best interest of the citizens of Hertford County,&uot; said Revelle at the July meeting. &uot;That’s their job, to sort through those who are considering locating in Hertford County and to make sure those businesses will promote the health and welfare of the county.&uot;

Nucor used similar measures to gain $70 million in industrial revenue bonds to construct its steel plate mill in Hertford County.

Metals Recycling Corp. and H.E. Phipps Co., Inc. are leading suppliers of new and used equipment for the global metals industry. The businesses were founded in 1987.

Indalex Aluminum Solutions Group ( consists of Indalex Inc, Indalex Limited, Indalex America Inc., and Indalex West Inc.

It is North America’s largest independent integrated supplier of extruded aluminum components and services and the only extruder with coast-to-coast facilities in the United States and Canada.

The company serves the building and construction, information technology, machinery and equipment, consumer durables, transportation, electrical, automotive and other industry sectors.

Its North American network includes two cast houses, 16 extrusion facilities, 41 extrusion presses with circle sizes up to 12 in., a variety of fabrication and close tolerance capabilities, 9 electrostatic paint lines and five anodizing operations.