Bermco Aluminum favors Bessemer for new plant site
Published: Friday, April 08, 2011, 6:00 AM
By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News
Howard Parker monitors ingot pouring machinery at Bermco Aluminum in Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. The secondary aluminum smelting company plans to relocate to Lincoln to be closer to the Honda plant and other customers. (The Birmingham News/ Mark Almond)
Bermco Aluminum now favors Bessemer as the site for a new multimillion-dollar smelting and scrapping plant, a development that could keep 100 jobs from moving out of Jefferson County to Talladega County.
Steve Weinstein, chief executive of Bermco, said the company has warmed up to the idea of investing $8 million on a new plant at the 20-acre site of its Bessemer scrapping and shredding plant.
Bermco, which has been in Birmingham for nearly 100 years, was considering consolidating its Birmingham aluminum smelting and distribution operations and its Bessemer operations in a vacant building in Lincoln in Talladega County, or at a site in Sylacauga.
But a conversation with a business owner in a barbecue restaurant in Bessemer convinced Weinstein to give the west Jefferson community a new look.
Van Sykes, the owner of Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q, chatted with Weinstein as the Bermco CEO waited for his order. When Weinstein mentioned the company was looking to move to Talladega County, Sykes told him he should at least talk to the new leadership in Bessemer because it had gotten aggressive in economic development.
Mayor Ken Gulley became Bessemer's new mayor after defeating former Mayor Ed May in October.
Five of Bessemer's seven city council members also took office with Gulley in November.
"We have to let people know Bessemer is open for business again," Gulley said in an interview Thursday. "I'm not one to take shots at the previous administration, I think it speaks for itself. But I think it's important to know that they have a mayor and a council willing to work together for the good of Bessemer."
Weinstein said that attitude is apparent.