AK Steel history: Company has been part of Middletown since 1899

Published: Tuesday, December 03, 2019 @ 10:47 AM


            1914 - Roller and crew at Armco: From left, watcher Floyd Ruhle, rougher Jim Walters, catcher Art Lord, heater Jerry Mincher, roller William Moorhead, unknown, heater helper William Lockhard, doubler Ed Moorman and pair heater Hughie Evers. Contributed Winifred Nardiello
1914 - Roller and crew at Armco: From left, watcher Floyd Ruhle, rougher Jim Walters, catcher Art Lord, heater Jerry Mincher, roller William Moorhead, unknown, heater helper William Lockhard, doubler Ed Moorman and pair heater Hughie Evers. Contributed Winifred Nardiello

AK Steel has a storied history in Middletown.

The company was incorporated on Dec. 27, 1899 as the American Rolling Mill Co. and the first meeting of the new corporation was held with George M. Verity elected president.

The company patented a new, improved steel known as Armco Ingot Iron in 1909, and the name Armco was often used to refer to the Middletown firm. Armco Steel Corp. became its official name on April 17, 1948.

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Then on April 7, 1994, the name Armco was replaced by AK Steel. The company’s name is derived from the initials of Armco and Kawasaki Steel Corp., which contributed several of its production facilities to the company in 1989 in exchange for a large stake in the company.

The company operates eight steel plants and two tube manufacturing plants. The steel plants are in Middletown; Ashland, Ky.; Butler, Pa.; Coshocton; Dearborn, Mich.; Mansfield; Rockport, Ind.; and Zanesville.

Headquartered in West Chester, the company has approximately 9,500 employees at manufacturing operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and facilities in Western Europe.

On March 1, 2006, AK Steel began a lockout of about 2,700 workers at the Middletown Works plant. By the next day, the mill was operated by 1,800 salaried and temporary replacement workers.

One year after the lockout started, on Feb. 28, 2007, AK Steel reached an agreement with the labor union. The union members ratified the proposed contract on March 14, 2007.

Here is a listing of some of the important dates in the company’s history:

1978: Armco Steel is renamed Armco Inc.

1985: Moves its headquarters to New Jersey.

1995: The company moves its headquarters back to Middletown.

1996: AK spends $1.1 billion to construct a new steel production facility in Rockport, Ind.

1996: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines the steel company for its safety record, including 10 fatalities at its plants in four years.

1999: The company acquires Armco Inc., its former parent company, for $1.3 billion. There is a lockout at the Mansfield plant after a disagreement on a three-year labor contract with 620 USWA employees.

2003: Labor dispute in Mansfield ends.

2006: There is a lockout of 2,700 workers in Middletown.

2006: AK enters into an agreement with the EPA to cleanup Dicks Creek in Middletown.

2007: The company moves its headquarters to West Chester Twp.

2017: On April 7, the company celebrates the grand opening of its new Research and Innovation Center in Middletown. The event marks the formal opening of the new $36 million, 135,000 square foot facility, built on 16-acres along I-75.