ROME, Ga. (Oct. 12, 2015) — Steel cord producer Bekaert Corp. has resumed production of bead wire at its plant in Rome that was suspended nearly a year ago after a fire struck the facility in November 2014.
Reopening the Rome plant “clearly shows (our) commitment and determination” in restoring service to customers, said Matthew Taylor, CEO of Bekaert Corp., a unit of Belgium's N.V. Bekaert S.A.
In the wake of the firm's decision to close the plant temporarily last year, Bekaert arranged to supply its customers in North America with bead imported from other Bekaert plants around the world, the company said.
Bead wire production was the final operation to be brought back on stream at the plant, Bekaert said. Brass-plated hydraulic hose wire activities resumed operations in late November 2014.
The restoration of production includes a $29 million processing upgrade that was under way when the fire broke out Nov. 19.
Bekaert held a ceremony Oct. 8 to mark the resumption of production. Among those attending were: Geert Bourgeois, minister-president of the government of Flanders, the region in Belgium where Bekaert is based; members of the Bekaert Group executive and regional management team; and representatives of all U.S.-based tire manufacturers.
Mr. Taylor praised construction workers and Bekaert's own employees for their “can-do attitude” in restoring the plant to production in a relatively short time.
To help in the rebuilding process, the Rome-Floyd Development Authority approved a $16 million bond issuance and tax abatement for Bekaert earlier this summer, according to local news reports.
The development authority noted that the bonds would help Bekaert retain 120 jobs at the plant.