HarbisonWalker International (HWI), the largest supplier of refractory products and services in North America, is returning to Fairfield, Alabama.
On Friday, January 14th, the company announced their intention to convert the closed property at 2595 Ensley-Pleasant Grove Road in Fairfield into Alabama One (AL1), a manufacturing, service and distribution hub for steel customers in the southern United States.
$25 Million Investment & 50 Jobs
HarbisonWalker International plans to invest approximately $25 million on the 200,000 square-foot facility and begin construction during the first quarter of 2022, with plans to open by the end of the same year.
The company anticipates hiring 50 highly-trained technicians and staff at the plant. They will be seeking several jobs that have transferable skills, such as welders, electricians, and mechanics.
“After considering several location options, we are pleased to become a part of the Fairfield-Birmingham business community in Jefferson County again and bring jobs to the region. The location is ideal for delivering quality refractory products and high-value services to our customers’ growing steel operations in the southern U.S.,” said Carol Jackson, Chairman and CEO, HarbisonWalker International.
What Are Refractories?
Refractories are ceramic materials that are highly engineered to be protective of various types of manufacturing processes. In steel-making, refractories prevent molten steel from melting right through the container it is being produced in. Refractories protect manufacturing processes across all industries and they are an essential part of manufacturing for virtually every single material that is produced today.
The New Plant
HWI’s proposed new plant will produce world-class magnesia-carbon brick refractories specifically engineered to maximize efficiency and performance in critical steel making applications like steel ladles and low-emission electric arc furnaces (EAFs). Initially, production will add approximately 15,000 metric tons annually and ultimately up to 30,000 metric tons as additional equipment is added by 2023.
AL1 will become one of HWI’s most technologically advanced and modernized facilities and contribute to HWI’s environmental and sustainability goals through energy-efficient operations. It will feature a high degree of robotics automation and technology and utilize lean techniques throughout its processes. HWI is committed to environmental sustainability and working toward carbon-neutral operations.
“The fundamentals for manufacturing and distribution success remain solid in the Fairfield area of Birmingham, and that’s evident by HarbisonWalker International returning to build a southern hub for its refractory business,” said Ron Kitchens, CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, which worked with the company on this project. “Our distribution network and workforce are strong and will support future opportunities for this global company to grow.”
Innovation, Investments and Growth
The new AL1 facility is part of HWI’s continued commitment to support its steel customers’ investments by boosting production capabilities, enhancing product quality and innovations, and upgrading facilities. During the past several years, the company has invested in its Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia, and Ontario facilities, which also produce products used in steelmaking.
“We are excited to work with HarbisonWalker International to bring jobs to the Fairfield area of Jefferson County,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons, who chairs the commission’s Economic Development Committee. “Providing more and better opportunities for our citizens is our goal in working with companies and municipalities.”
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