Aluminum company picks Cuyahoga County for HQ

December 10, 2004
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Friday, December 10, 2004
Christopher Montgomery
Plain Dealer Reporter

Cuyahoga County will soon gain the headquarters of a $2 billion public company, an important win for a region that has lost a number of high-profile corporate headquarters in recent years.

The home office of aluminum fabricator and recycler Aleris International Inc. is expected to employ 100 people, with an average salary of $60,000, within three years. A site hasn’t been announced yet, but Beachwood is a strong contender.

The deal includes the return of a set of familiar faces. Four of Aleris’ top executives were at the helm of Brecksville’s Noveon International Inc. when it was bought by Wickliffe’s Lubrizol Corp. last summer.

Aleris is the result of a merger that closed Thursday between IMCO Recycling Inc., of Irving, Texas, and Commonwealth Industries Inc., of Louisville, Ky.

The marriage of IMCO, one of the largest recyclers of aluminum and zinc, and Commonwealth, a leading maker of aluminum sheet, created a company with more than $2 billion in annual sales, 3,200 employees and 29 production facilities worldwide.

Both companies were public, and Aleris will start trading today as ARS on the New York Stock Exchange.

Aleris Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Demetriou said in an interview that moving to Northeast Ohio , instead of consolidating elsewhere, made the most business sense.

“First and foremost, it’s a great place to have a headquarters,” Demetriou said. “We also see this as a central location with regard to our key customers and suppliers.

“And somewhere down the list of input was the fact that several of us who now lead the combined company all live here.”

Demetriou was president and CEO of specialty chemical maker Noveon from 2001 to June of this year, when Lubrizol completed its acquisition. He joined Commonwealth, which he had served as a board member for two years, as its president and chief executive officer after leaving Noveon.

Commonwealth and IMCO announced their merger around the time Demetriou took over at Commonwealth, and he was asked by the boards of both companies to run Aleris. Demetriou brought with him three top Noveon executives — Chief Financial Officer Mike Friday, Treasurer Sean Stack and general counsel Chris Clegg.

Team NEO, a regional economic development organization, helped coordinate an incentive package to lure Aleris to the area. It includes a state job creation tax credit of up to $950,000, a low-interest $400,000 loan from Cuyahoga County and a grant from the Greater Cleveland Partnership, details of which haven’t been released.

Bob Farley, president of Team NEO, said it helped that Aleris’ top executives already lived in Greater Cleveland, “but we had to work for it. It wasn’t just a gimme.” Aleris hasn’t disclosed which sites it’s considering, but all of them are in Cuyahoga County, Farley said.

Thomas Sudow, executive director of the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce, said that his city is in the running and that he’s “very hopeful.”

“The best part of this is that we aren’t just reshuffling the deck on the Titanic. They’re coming in from the outside,” Sudow said. “It’s not good for the region to just move something from Beachwood to Westlake.”

Demetriou said he expects to make an announcement on the headquarters site sometime in the next few days.

The new company already has a minor presence in the region — Commonwealth’s aluminum coating plant in Bedford and IMCO’s aluminum facility in Elyria.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

[email protected], 216-999-4059
© 2004 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.

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