HarbisonWalker International will invest $25 million to convert its closed property in Fairfield into Alabama One (AL1), a manufacturing, service and distribution hub for steel customers. Construction will begin during the first quarter of 2022 and is expected to be complete before the end of the year.
“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,” said Carol Jackson, chairman and CEO of HarbisonWalker. “The location is ideal for delivering quality refractory products and high-value services to our customers’ growing steel operations in the southern U.S.”
The 200,000-square-foot facility will become one of the company’s most technologically advanced and modernized facilities, producing magnesia-carbon brick refractories specifically engineered to maximize efficiency and performance in steel-making applications like steel ladles and low-emission electric arc furnaces. 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.
The Fairfield plant is expected to employ 50 technicians and staff. HarbisonWalker expects to begin recruiting qualified workers in early 2022 and providing training as needed.
“Fairfield is excited to welcome HarbisonWalker International to our city as a southern hub for its operations,” said Fairfield Mayor Eddie Penny.
AL1 will feature a high degree of robotics automation and technology and utilize lean techniques throughout its processes. The company stated that it is committed to environmental sustainability and working towards carbon-neutral operations.
The Fairfield plant was closed in 2019 in direct response to the company’s exit of carbon bake brick products due to a decline in the aluminum carbon bake market.
“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. “Our distribution network and workforce are strong and will support future opportunities for this global company to grow.”
HarbisonWalker International is the largest supplier of refractory products and services in the U.S. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company’s international network includes North America, Europe and Asia, with 19 manufacturing plants, 30 global sourcing centers and technology facilities in the U.S. and China.