YOUNGSTOWN - RG Steel Superintendent Mike Jones and Clayton Ruminski may be at opposite ends of the life cycle, but they're in sync when it comes to marking the 100th anniversary of the Warren steel mill.
"It's a family thing," Jones, a 39-year veteran who heads steelmaking and casting operations at the sprawling Pine Avenue mill, said Thursday as he viewed displays about the mill at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor. "My dad worked here 43 years. I have a son who's in the finishing end. My grandfather on my mother's side worked at Copperweld (Steel)."
Jones was among the RG Steel workers who helped 10 Youngstown State University students gather photos, facts and figures tracking the mill's 100 years since opening as Trumbull Steel Co. in 1912.
For Ruminski, one of the graduate students who began researching the mill's history in mid-January, the quest was a passion.
Nearly 23, Ruminski said he grew up in Hubbard near the two Sheet & Tube blast furnaces that were there 100 years before being torn down.
So, he jumped at the chance to interview RG workers and study the mill's path from the golden years of U.S. steelmaking until the decline set in with the closing of Sheet & Tube's Campbell works on Sept. 19, 1977.
When you go
WHAT: The 100th anniversary of the Warren steel mill - now known as RG Steel - will continue at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor through June 19, when a research project about the Little Steel Strike of 1937 will replace it.
WHEN:?Museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
HOW?MUCH:?Regular admission is $7, $6 for seniors and $3 for students. YSU students are admitted free.
Known as "Black Monday," the event triggered a collapse that left RG Steel as the Mahoning Valley's only remaining integrated steel mill - one that makes steel from raw materials instead of melting scrap steel.
"It's very exciting to interview these guys," said Ruminski, who is pursuing his master's degree in both the academic side of history and the applied side, which includes restoring buildings. "It's a big part of our history. Something needed to be done to preserve it."
One of the surprising facts Ruminski said he discovered was that the Warren mill's blast furnace was the world's largest when it started in January 1922 with 600 tons a day capacity, a title it held into the 1940s.
The mill's obituary has been prepared many times, but never published, as workers have sacrificed and struggled to keep it open. In the process, the work force has shrunk to slightly more than 1,000 hourly and salaried employees.
On Tuesday, owner The Renco Group announced pay and benefit cuts for salaried and nonunion workers in an effort to reduce costs.
Jones believes the mill will survive its latest troubles.
"I think because of the people who work there that the plant no doubt will make it," Jones said.