Business booming for Point of Rocks plant

POINT OF ROCKS — The need to replace infrastructure, and a pickup in other large construction projects, has created a boom for Canam Steel Corp. in Point of Rocks.

The company, at 4010 Clay St., has hired 50 employees in the past five months and will hire 50 more during the next six months, said General Manager Michel Cyr.

Cyr said an additional 50 workers will most likely be added to 269 employees at the plant today during the next year.

While many employees are welders and steel fabricators, Cyr said there will also be more “front-end” jobs in human resources, project engineering and administration.

The Point of Rocks location is the United States headquarters for Canam Group, an international company based in Canada.

“We used to do joists and trusses,” said Ronald W. Peppe II, vice president for legal and human resources. “If you go to a place like Lowe’s or Home Depot, just look up and you will see trusses that we made here (holding up the roof).”

But that business declined, Peppe said, and the company switched to structural steel and bridges.

Cyr said the company has provided steel for 50 stadiums, including recently the Miami Dolphins’. The company’s steel creations were also used in convention centers in Philadelphia and Boston as well as other office buildings.

Canam Group is the largest bridge builder in Canada, Peppe said, and the Point of Rocks plant has been busy making bridge sections for projects along the East Coast and in Canada.

“We work together,” Peppe said. “Sometimes they are making the parts in Canada, sometimes we make them and ship them from here.”

Canam Group has 13 plants in the U.S., Peppe said. With much of the cost of projects in shipping the steel, the different plants serve different geographic areas. The company has plants around the world, including Romania, India and China.

Cyr began working for Canam in 1995 and went to Mexico to oversee the building of a plant and worked there before coming to Point of Rocks.

The plant was initially Todd Steel, then Structural Building Systems, until purchased in the mid-1980s by Canam, Peppe said. Canam is a government contractor with ongoing projects, Peppe said.

One of the problems facing the company is room to grow.

“There is a challenge in the physical space,” Peppe said. “We are zoned industrial, but the surrounding land is residential. We are a good neighbor and are aware of the growing number of homes at Canal Run (near the plant).”

Some of the large bridgework sections have to be taken in sections to land rented at the former Alcoa Eastalco Works on Manor Woods Road to be assembled and trucked out.

Getting out of the Point of Rocks plant can be a task, Peppe said.

Some drivers have to back out slowly onto the road with a long piece of steel section. “We are looking around for land,” Peppe said.

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