By BRENDA J. LINERT
WARREN - Bidding on tools, vises, welding equipment, hydraulic jacks, diesel engines, I-beams, forklift parts and much more went on inside the machine shop of the former RG Steel mill for more than seven hours Tuesday.
The auction of items not needed in the steelmaking process will continue for the next three days as scheduled, said Kevin Gamm of Hamilton-based Myron Bowling Auctioneers.
More than 500 registered bidders turned out to purchase items inside the mill, Gamm said. And despite the large crowd in the now idled plant, Gamm said the process went "smoothly" with a "very good crowd."
Bidders were moved throughout the sprawling mill on coach buses provided by the auction houses. Buyers, many using riggers set up at the auction, may not begin removing their purchases until at least Saturday.
Gary Shells, corporate manager at Glunt Industries in Warren, looks over a 600-ton horizontal press being auctioned at the former RG Steel. Photo by R. Michael Semple
Still to be auctioned, according to information posted on the websites of four auction houses working together on the project, are the "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.
One of the mill's owners, Charles J. Betters, has said the equipment being sold is not needed for the mill's operation and will help them to recoup some of their ongoing expenses in keeping the mill viable while the search for an operator continues.
The 100-year-old mill has been idle since May when the most recent operator, RG Steel, declared bankruptcy, leaving more than 1,000 workers jobless. In August, three partners headed by Betters of Aliquippa, Pa., purchased the mill out of bankruptcy under an agreement that he would spend at least nine months attempting to restart it.
Betters has said he will not operate the mill himself, but is searching for a new operator.
Political and business leaders met in the past month in an attempt, as well, to generate some plans on ways to get the mill restarted.
So far the attempts have not bore fruit.