Chatham Steel leaving The PointPublished 2:29pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012
SOUTH POINT — After less than a year and a half, the distribution center of a Georgia-based steel service company housed at The Point industrial park is leaving Lawrence County.
Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp., said he met with officials from Chatman Steel Monday, who said they plan to be out of The Point by the end of January, due to the economy and the firm’s relying heavily on the coal mining industry.
“It was the assumption there would be an adequate market in this region, but what is really happening, people don’t realize the dependence of our region on the coal industry,” Dingus said. “They made a business decision. They were good in our community and we really hated to see that happen.”
Chatham Steel, a metal distribution company based in Savannah, opened in July 2011, in a 56,000-square-foot spec building at the industrial park.
Employing about 25 people, Chatham Steel bought stainless and carbon-steel products from mills to distribute to customers needing processed metal.
“They are a good company and I guess they are going to work with those employees to help them find other employment,” Dingus said. “A number of them are truck drivers and I think the market is still short on CDL drivers.”
Looking on the bright side of things, Dingus said some other employers will benefit from those displaced by the closing.
“There is an opportunity for some other employers to get some tremendous people,” Dingus said. “Many of them came to Chatham when they opened and they have been talking with the leadership there. They are very good employees. Very positive, very committed to making things go well.”
Chatham filled the largest space at The Point and Dingus said he would start contacting prospective companies to fill the void.
“We have had a couple of companies that had looked at coming to Lawrence County and believe me I’ll be on the phone tomorrow at least saying ‘do we have an opportunity for you?’” he said. “Right now we do find a tremendous interest in our community for space in The Point, so I don’t anticipate having a great deal of difficulty in finding another tenant for that building.
“We hate to lose Chatham,” Dingus continued. “It is a national corporation. It’s a major player. And as we try to grow and look at making things happen in our future growth, Chatham was an important player in that.”
Calls to Bert Tenenbaum, president of Chatham Steel, were not returned by press time.