VALPARAISO | Paul Wurth’s American roots are further strengthened by the recent relocation of its Indiana operations to Valparaiso. The blast furnace-focused international engineering company looks to expand by attracting new talent as well as better serve its customers in the iron and steel industry.
“The first U.S. office was opened in the greater Pittsburgh area in 1984 providing engineering services for the U.S. market. (In 2009), we decided that we would expand our activity and open our own shop (in Portage),” said Jim Tommarello, manager of information technology, communications and facilities at Paul Wurth. “We find a majority of our customers are located in the Northwest Indiana area, therefore, we opened our shop in the area where most of the blast furnaces and coke plants are located.”
Tommarello said the move was prompted by the availability of the former Task Force Tips building.
“It was on the market and a good fit for us. We did not want to pass it up,” he said. “This location is close to transportation, hotels, restaurants, shopping and still close to our customers and some of our suppliers. Valparaiso has a lot to offer us and this also helps us keep our employees happy and hopefully help in attracting new talent for our operations here.”
The company’s products and services range from complete iron-making plants and furnace modernizations and relines to engineering design services and equipment maintenance and spare parts as well as environmental solutions.
“We are all in what you call the primary side of the plant: where they make iron, it’s not yet steel. We just finished up a project in Mexico where we built a blast furnace from the ground up. We deal with all of the auxiliary equipment. We can do turnkey down to supplying a few small sensors,” Tommarello said. “We have all the technologies and equipment in house to build a modern blast furnace. It’s nice to have everything in house so if there is a problem, we can deal with it ourselves.
Launched in 1870 by an individual named Paul Wurth, family members are still involved in the company.
The function of the Valparaiso facility is to provide spare parts and service for the company’s equipment.
“The refurbishing program for Paul Wurth equipment is a cost-saving and customized solution. Our experts disassemble and inspect all components for wear or damage, and they repair or replace them as required,” he said.
Looking toward the future, Tommarello sees the Valparaiso location as a platform for growth as the company builds on its American base.
“This (Valparaiso) is the future for Paul Wurth in America. Over the next years, new employees (to expand or replace retirees) will mainly be hired in Valparaiso. We are getting ready to hire young engineers. As we can be seen as a dinosaur industry versus the sparkly high-tech field, we have to take them out of college and train them. It’s a different field,” he said.