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Zekelman Closing Long Beach Plant, Blames Imports From Mexico

Written by Laura Miller

Zekelman Industries is closing its Long Beach, Calif., steel conduit manufacturing facility, pointing its finger at imports from Mexico as a major reason for the closure.

The Long Beach facility, which employed 145 workers represented by the United Autoworkers union, manufactured steel conduit under the Western Tube and Wheatland Tube brand names.

ZekelmanIndustries logo2.2The Chicago-based company says it will continue to serve customers out of its Rochelle, Ill., facility as well as from West Coast distribution centers.

Steel conduit imports from Mexico are experiencing a surge, Zekelman says, with volumes spiking from just 11,960 tons in 2017 to an estimated 69,641 tons this year.

A temporary permit control system was put in place from August 2020 to May 2021 in order to reduce import volumes, and the aim after May 2021 was self-regulation, according to Zekelman.

“This obviously did not happen…starting one month after the permit control period was in put in place and continuing to the current day, the Mexican steel conduit producers and their importers have misclassified their imported steel conduit into Chapter 85 rather than Chapter 73 to circumvent the control system,” Zekelman claims.

Most iron and steel items are typically classified under Chapter 73 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the US (HTSUS). Certain conduit tubing and electrical conduit tubing, however, can be classified in Chapter 85 of the HTSUS.

To avoid closures such as this, “All we ask for is for our trade agreements to be enforced,” stated Barry Zekelman, chairman and CEO of Zekelman Industries.

Beyond this closure, the company is expanding in other parts of the country. Construction will begin in December on a 200,000-tons-per-year Wheatland Tube galvanizing facility in Blytheville, Ark., and operations at a new, 300,000-tons-per-year tube galvanizing plant outside Chicago are slated to begin in January 2023. Earlier this year, its Atlas Tube subsidiary officially opened an ERW mill in Blytheville.

By Laura Miller,

Laura Miller

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