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Grupo Simec Idles Republic Steel Mills Indefinitely, Furloughs 500 Workers in Ohio and New York

Aug. 11, 2023
The Mexican company, which purchased Republic Steel in 2005, said the plants would be idled indefinitely as it moves production to a newer facility in Mexico.

Republic Steel’s parent company Grupo Simec announced today it would indefinitely close two Republic Steel mills in Canton, Ohio and Lackawanna, New York. Five hundred employees who worked at the plants will be indefinitely furloughed, the group said. In a statement, Grupo Simec—which purchased Republic Steel in 2005—cited inflation and environmental concerns as the main reasons to close the mills.

Despite the idled mills, Grupo Simec says its U.S. customers will be unaffected, since steel production from both plants will move to its newer mill in Tlaxcala, Mexico.

Aside from Canton and Lackawanna, Republic Steel has three other facilities in Ohio—in Massilon, Lorain, and Solon—and a fourth in Hamilton, Ontario.

In a statement, Jaime Vigil, a member of the board at Republic Steel and an executive advisor to its parent company, said the plants had issues with rising input costs despite high demand for the special bar quality steel produced by the mills.

“We’re facing an extremely challenging SBQ market in the U.S., with competitive market pricing and decreased demand,” Vigil said, while inflation also led to rising input materials and labor costs. Increases in demand for special bar quality steel after the Infrastructure Bill in 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022 failed to materialize “in a timely manner,” Vigil said.

Grupo Simec also cited environmental concerns for idling the plants, saying that despite Republic Steel’s two-year “strict compliance” with National Ambient Air Quality Standards, “ensuring future environmental compliance while producing steel in facilities that are up to 125 years old proved to be too challenging.”

In December 2022, the EPA settled a consent decree against Republic Steel that required it to reduce pollution from its Canton, Ohio mill, which the EPA said had “caused airborne lead levels in the surrounding area to exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Lead.” The consent decree also required Republic Steel to pay a $990,000 civil penalty. The Canton factory, near Republic Steel’s headquarters, had also previously been fined for excess lead emissions in July and August 2021.

In a statement, Vigil thanked Republic Steel workers for their history and contribution to the company’s success. “Republic Steel employees are hard-working and dedicated,” Vigil said. “They’re an important reason this company has been a leader in this industry for so long.”

About the Author

Ryan Secard | Associate Editor


Focus: Workforce and labor issues; machining and foundry management

Associate Editor Ryan Secard covers topics relevant to the manufacturing workforce, including recruitment, safety, labor organizations, and the skills gap. Ryan has written IndustryWeek's Salary Survey annually since 2021 and has coordinated its Talent Advisory Board since September 2023.

Ryan got started at IndustryWeek in August 2019 as an editorial intern and was hired as a news editor in 2020 before his 2023 promotion to associate editor, talent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Wooster.

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