WARREN - An official with a Hamilton industrial auction house coordinating the sell-off of thousands of pieces of equipment and tools inside the former RG Steel plant here is expecting big crowds this week.
"Tons of interest" is how Kevin Gamm of Myron Bowling Auctioneers last week described the reaction to information posted on the websites of four auction houses working together on the sale because it was simply too big for just one auctioneer to handle.
The sale kicks off Monday with a public "inspection day" and then follows a schedule for Tuesday through Friday for various areas of the mill.
Gamm and the mill's owners have said the sale will exclude any assets used in the steel production process for the hot strip mill. That equipment is being preserved under a court agreement that the new owners of the mill, now known as BDM Warren Steel Holdings LLC, will spend at least nine months - until May - searching for someone to operate the mill.
Despite the promise to keep equipment used in the steel manufacture, other parts of the plant used in steel processing are being sold. Those things include things like the rolling mills, furnaces and galvanizing lines, Gamm said.
A message left seeking comment Friday from Charles Betters of Aliquippa, one of the mill's three new owners, was not immediately returned.
Betters previously told the Tribune Chronicle the sale would not include the blast furnace, castors and other equipment on the "whole hot side of the mill."
Specifics of the sale listed on the web sites of four auction houses working together on the project say the sale will include the ''complete large capacity machine shop,'' ''complete fabrication shop,'' ''complete carpentry shop,'' ''complete tractor maintenance shop,'' more than 1,000 new and used electric motors, three Cat backhoes, two Cat haul trucks, five Cat wheel loaders, forklifts cranes, grinders, hand tools and much more.
Betters previously said the sale of "excess equipment on site ... would help the owners to recoup some of their ongoing expenses in keeping the mill operational.''
Gamm said no minimum bid amounts have been set, and he is expecting a large turnout.
"I get 25 calls a day," Gamm said, and noted he has seen on-line bidder registration from overseas.
"It's a small city there. There's a lot of people from all walks of industry that are going to be there, people interested in construction equipment and scrap guys,'' he said.
State and local economic development officials have said they are involved in attempting to kindle interest in the plant, but noted the steelmaking market remains soft and it is challenging to find funding for potential owners.
Western Reserve Port Authority executive director Rose Ann DeLeon said in past weeks she has entertained discussions with an investor group considering involvement. She declined to comment further because the investors asked for confidentiality.
Regional Chamber officials and JobsOhio, the governor's economic development arm, also have said in recent months they too have worked with Betters and his partners in attempts to market the mill. So far none of the developments have bore fruit.
Betters and his partners purchased the 100-year-old mill in August out of bankruptcy for about $17 million. The plant had been idled since May when the former operator RG Steel declared bankruptcy.
Betters and his partners in the fall funded the nearly $1 million process of winterizing the mill to protect it against freezing temperatures that would have damaged infrastructure beyond repair in the hopes of eventually restarting the plant.
The Warren RG Steel plant is one of the few remaining mills previously operated by RG Steel. Several others in Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland have been liquidated with some in the process of being razed. The Sparrows Point RG Steel mill in Maryland, which once employed more than 30,000 steelworkers, is to be demolished.