Zekelman Industries announced Wednesday (Sept. 21) that construction will begin in December on its new inline steel tube galvanizing factory in Blytheville. Similar to the company’s most recent expansion in Rochelle, Illinois, this factory will utilize modern manufacturing technology and a fully automated Matter warehouse system.
When completed, the production lines will have an annual operating capacity exceeding 200,000 tons. The company plans to hire 80 workers for its initial startup. The cost for the project was not released. The last expansion by the company in Blytheville cost $150 million and was completed earlier this year.
“Beyond expanding our current capacity, this new factory enables our Wheatland Tube brand to bring new products and services to the market,” Barry Zekelman, chairman and CEO said. “Our goal is to lead the industry with continued investments in our factories, teammates and communities. Together, these investments improve on the leading service levels our customers already experience and the flexibility that will benefit high-growth industries such as utility scale solar.”
The facility will produce tubes featuring Wheatland’s leading ThunderCoat inline galvanized coating. The factory will also support the fence, solar and mechanical markets. Commissioning of the mills is expected to begin in late 2023.
This is Zekelman Industries’ third expansion in Arkansas. It recently built its Jumbo HSS mill there in early 2022. This new Wheatland facility will share a campus with Zekelman’s existing Atlas Tube operations in Blytheville, a growing industrial sector in Northeast Arkansas that also offers access to domestic steel production and multiple transportation options.
“We’ve been working with the state of Arkansas and Mississippi County since 2007. Our collective vision is delivering real economic opportunity in Arkansas,” Tom Muth, executive vice president and COO said. “We are excited to see the local community grow and look forward to our continued partnership.”
“We are pleased that Zekelman Industries, a legacy within the steel industry, plans to expand in Mississippi County for the third time,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “As the steel industry grows in Northeast Arkansas, so does the wealth of opportunity for our communities and our future generations. It is a testament to our workforce when a company like Zekelman Industries intends to once again expand operations in Arkansas.”
Zekelman Industries includes the operating divisions of Atlas Tube, Picoma, Sharon Tube, Wheatland Tube, Western Tube and Z Modular. It is the largest independent manufacturer of hollow structural sections (HSS) and steel pipe, and the top producer of electrical conduit and elbows, couplings and nipples in North America.