PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Earthmovers have been razing the sprawling riverfront site in Hazelwood in anticipation of major new construction.
And for the past five months, the city has been trying to secure a deal for Kennametal to build its new world headquarters there. But now, those plans have scrapped.
“We found out yesterday, late yesterday, that unfortunately, they’ve suspended that potential headquarters new construction,” said Kevin Acklin, the chief-of-staff for Mayor Bill Peduto.
It’s tough times for Kennametal and for the steel industry it serves.
The company has laid off 1,000 workers worldwide and their stock price has dropped by more than 50 percent as demand for its steel-cutting technology has markedly declined.
Earlier in the month, it fired its CEO, and the new boss Ronald DeFeo is reportedly eyeing further belt-tightening.
Acklin said the combination of an industry slowdown and new management spelled death for the new headquarters.
“It’s not unexpected with those two big, uncontrollable variables that a company like Kennametal would say, ‘Hey, let’s way and see what’s happening before we move forward with a permanent headquarters location,’” Acklin said.
The ending of talks mirrors the action of U.S. Steel which pulled the plug on building its new world headquarters on the old Civic Arena site Uptown, citing the same deteriorating markets conditions.
For now, most of Kennametal’s administrative staff will continue operating out of the U.S. Steel building, and most of local operation will stay at its Westmoreland County facility.
That’s welcome news to state Sen. Kim Ward.
“This is great news for Westmoreland County, and I hope it’s permanently good news for Westmoreland County,” she said. “It never made any sense to many of us in Westmoreland County that a company that was struggling in the market and losing money to decide that was the best time to pick up and move away.”