Sunday, February 18, 2001

What's the Buzz?


Note to Bush: AK Steel a success

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        While upstate Ohio officials are attempting to get President Bush's help for the steel industry, U.S. Rep. John Boehner thinks there's a better example to point out: AK Steel.

        Mr. Bush is scheduled to visit Columbus Tuesday to talk about education, and Mr. Boehner would like him to also travel to Middletown, home of AK's headquarters.

        “I know that you have been asked to visit several struggling steel companies in Ohio and Indiana,” the West Chester Township Republican wrote the president this week. “I respectfully request that you consider a visit to AK Steel's Middletown Works — the most productive steel mill in the world.

        “Without any government intervention, AK Steel and its employees have quietly changed and adapted to the changing economic forces when others have not,” said Mr. Boehner, whose district includes the Middletown mill.

        Since November, three Ohio steel makers, including Cleveland's LTV Corp., have filed for bankruptcy reorganization blaming increased imports of foreign steel. The failures have triggered a flurry of calls for government intervention.

        In the early 1990s, AK Steel, then Armco Steel, was on the verge of bankruptcy when new management streamlined operations, cut jobs and improved operations without government assistance.

        Last year, AK Steel reported operating profit per ton of $52, leading the industry in the key measurement for seven consecutive years.

        “We would be honored to show President Bush that the U.S. steel industry can be more competitive with a "hands off' rather than "hands out' public policy,” AK Steel chairman Richard M. Wardrop Jr. said.

        AK Steel has been leery of proposals to use public money to bail out its competitors.

        No word on whether President Bush plans a visit.

        Have a tip about a Tristate company that should be included in our Buzz? Call (513) 768-8147 or e-mail business@enquirer.com.

       



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