Wean United is a former manufacturer of equipment that was used to process and finish flat rolled steel, 11 steel and iron rolls, iron castings, coupling boxes, annealing bottoms and boxes and steam hydraulic forging presses in Youngstown, Ohio. It was equipped to produce castings and rolls weighing up to 100 tons. 12


History

The lots occupied by Wean United were home to various industries throughout the years.

The first was Hamilton Works, 14 a small foundry and machine shop that was begun by Homer Hamilton in 1856. 13 17 William Tod, the son of Ohio Governor David Tod, partnered with Hamilton to form the William Tod & Company in 1878. It constructed stationary steam engines for the iron and steel industry. 14 17 Its most common models included blowing engines and reversing engines for blast furnaces and steel mills, municipal water-works pumping engines and gas engines from 500 horsepower to 5,000 horsepower. 14 Located at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Market Street was the Youngstown Brass Company and a laboratory. 9 At 416 Market Street was the William B. Pollock & Company, a boiler and structural steel manufacturer. 8 9 16

In 1901, the William Tod & Company was succeeded by the William Tod Company that was incorporated with William Tod as president. 14 Over time, its size expanded to 8½ acres in size and grew from several hundred to over 600 employees, outputting near 7,000 tons of machinery per year.

The United Engineering & Foundry Company, founded as a stove foundry in 1849 under the name of Parmelee & Sawyer and then Ward Kay & Company along Oak Street, 15 18 manufactured rolling mill equipment. It continued under its successors, Ward, Booth & Miller and Booth, Miller & Company. On March 1, 1888, the Lloyd Booth Company was taken over by a corporation with a capital of $100,000, at which time the works located west of Market Street were begun. 18 The capital was then increased soon after incorporation to $225,000. 15 18

It was followed with the organization of the United Engineering Company on July 1, 1901 with a capital stock of $5.5 million 15 18 and $7.5 million in 1910. 18 Flush wish cash, United Engineering became the largest manufacturer of rolling mill and steel-works equipment in the United States, and the largest producers of steel, chilled and grey iron rolls in the world.

United had five separate departments: 15

  • The Lloyd Booth Company department, which included two separate plants in Youngstown that manufactured rolling-mill and steel-works machinery, grey iron and chilled rolls.
  • The McGill department in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that manufactured rolling-mill and tube-works machinery.
  • The Lincoln Foundry department, also in Pittsburgh, that manufactured only rolls used in rolling mills and steel-works.
  • The Frank Kneeland department in Pittsburgh that manufactured rolling mill and steel-works machinery.
  • The Vandergrift, Pennsylvania plant that manufactured iron and steel castings, and water-chilled rolls.

United constructed blooming mills and a rail mill for the Ohio Works of the Carnegie Steel Company, a blooming mill, rail mill and billet mill for the Bessemer department of the Republic Iron & Steel Company, a blooming mill, sheet, bar and billet mill for the new plant of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company and a continuous rail mill and five blooming mills for Bethlehem Steel Company in Gary, Indiana. 15

In November 1916, 18 United Engineering & Foundry Company acquired the William Tod Company, rebranding itself as the Youngstown District of the United Engineering & Foundry Company. It became a heavy machine shop that manufactured equipment that processed and finished flat rolled steel, 11 steel and iron rolls, iron castings, coupling boxes, annealing bottoms and boxes and steam hydraulic forging presses. It was equipped to produce castings and rolls weighing up to 100 tons. 12

In nearby Warren, the Wean Engineering Company was begun in 1929 by Raymond John Wean. 19 Wean had rented a one-room office in the Second National Bank and began formulating ideas on new approaches to steel production. It soon filled an order of pack heating furnaces for the Empire Steel Corporation in Mansfield. By the end of its first year, Wean Engineering employed seven, expanding throughout the bank building. Wean Engineering later became Wean Manufacturing, Wean Equipment and then Wean Industries.

In 1964, John Wean III hired Howard L. Worner to complete paintings for Wean’s annual calendar. 1 The collaboration was a project by Bill Brown, a design student of Worner and a former manager for Carnegie-Mellon. Early paintings were usually machinery that operated in its mills, diversified with historical scenes of America and other countries. From June 1968 until September 1969, Worner was given a commission to travel abroad to Great Britain, eastern Europe, Latin America and South America and paint on-location Wean machinery in steel mills and in other industrial sites. The project continued until 1986.

On December 15, 1971, Wean Industries acquired United Engineering & Foundry and became Wean United. 20

Decline

Citing a depressed steel market, Wean United closed its Youngstown plant in 1982 and sold the property in 1985. 3 Wean then sold its United Engineering unit in 1986 to avoid pension liabilities. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) took over United’s plan in 1991 when it had $65 million in unfunded liabilities. 11 On July 20, 1993, Wean filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection, listing $21.4 million in assets and $43.1 million in liabilities. It sought to sell its 264,000 square-foot Youngstown plant to Danieli & C. SpA of Italy for $12 million with a requirement that the deal be completed by September 30. Danieli, which manufactured arc furnaces, continuous casters and other steel making equipment, intended to continue operating the plant, which employed 275. After the sale, Wean would only have one plant in Canada existing which would operate on a limited basis.

In the filing, Wean noted that it had cut 85% of its workforce since 1980 as the steel industry collapsed. 11 It posted seven straight years of losses from 1982 to 1988 but was profitable from 1989 to 1991. In 1992, it posted a loss of $22.7 million and defaulted on $17.2 million in debentures and notes, and owed $18 million in principal and interest on the debt.

Demolition

In 2005, the Wean United complex was acquired by Gearmar Properties who leased out the buildings to various businesses, including Timken and Latrobe Steel. 3 Most of the tenants had left by 2010. The last holdout, Youngstown Pipe and Supply, relocated to the former Cold Metal Products property in Campbell and Youngstown in 2011.

In March 2012, city proposed using $1,775,418 from a Clean Ohio grant and $591,806 in matching funds for an environmental cleanup of the site and partial demolition of the buildings. 2 The older third section of the complex was to be razed by Gearmar and remediated using Clean Ohio funds. 5

The city was in the process of receiving the property from Gearmar as to start demolition by December 30, 3 but was delayed for one year. Gearmar was in discussions with a company to locate inside a portion of the complex that featured a 100-ton crane. Those discussions failed to land a suitable tenant and an entire razing of the complex was instead proposed. 5

Demolition of half of the Wean United property began in late December 2013. 4 Under agreement with the city, Gearmar demolished all but the portion of the complex with a 100-ton crane. 6 In return for using some city funds and the Clean Ohio grant, the city took possession of the property with the understanding that Gearmar had the right to lease the remainder of the building to a tenant by May 1, 2014.

With no tenant found, the remainder of the Wean United complex was demolished.

Sources