Federal Metal Co. announced plans Thursday to invest $17.8 million and create 40 new jobs over four years at a new manufacturing facility in North Little Rock.
The company will recycle aluminum copper radiators to produce alloys in the former Ben E. Keith facility at 1200 Pike Ave. after renovations are completed on the 165,000-square-foot plant.
This will be the 110-year-old company's first facility in Arkansas and is part of an expansion plan driven by the global demand for copper, aluminum and nonferrous alloys. Federal Metal purchased the assets of SA Alloys in Columbia, Pa., in September 2022.
"Major investments in new mill, foundry and refining capacity are underway in the United States for the first time in generations, and it's important the scrap industry here keeps pace to assure the domestic supply chain is well fed," Peter Nagusky, Federal Metal's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement announcing the expansion.
"Importantly, this strategic location is convenient for our supplier partners and close to several key customers," Nagusky said, adding that the "specialized operation will quickly emerge as the most advanced of its kind in the world."
Federal Metal has already started hiring and plans to have the facility in production by the middle of the year. The North Little Rock plant will be able to recycle more than 3,300 tons per month of aluminum copper radiators.
The manufacturer is a fourth-generation, family-owned business that was founded in 1913. Federal Metal recycles radiators to produce high-quality copper-based alloys to keep production in the U.S.
"It is wasteful when valuable scrap like these radiators are exported [to support non-U.S. manufacturing]," Nagusky said. "Companies producing semi-finished copper and aluminum will need to increase the recycled content of their products by using more scrap and less primary metal. The main reasons are clear: it is economically advantageous and environmentally sustainable."
The company will fit snugly into Arkansas' manufacturing sector, according to Clint O'Neal, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. "The metals industry plays a key role in the vibrancy of the Arkansas economy, accounting for about 13.6% of total manufacturing," he said, noting the industry employs more than 22,000 Arkansans.
Federal Metal has two other manufacturing plants: its original facility in Bedford, Ohio, and a second one that was added with the purchase of SA Alloys. The company has about 170 employees today.
Arkansas has offered the company two incentives to locate the plant in North Little Rock. The tax-back program provides sales and use tax refunds on the purchase of building materials and taxable machinery and equipment. The advantage Arkansas incentive delivers income tax credit for hiring new employees.