Esmark Breaks Ground on $9 Million Global Headquarters in Edgeworth
CEO James Bouchard's dream was to build the Esmark Center in the Sewickley Valley.
Esmark started out as a dream on the third-floor of James Bouchard’s home in Sewickley, where he and his wife, Carolyn, stepped out on faith and signed the documents to put their Sewickley home up as collateral.
Never in his wildest imagination did he think that homespun dream would mushroom from one employee into an international success.
“It started as a dream. I didn’t believe it would be this big,” said Bouchard, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Esmark Inc.
On Thursday, a large part of the dream was realized with the formal groundbreaking at Esmark’s future $9 million global headquarters off Route 65 in Edgeworth.
John Burger, developer and part owner of the Esmark Center, designed the building plans, which include a three-story, 39,000-square foot structure that incorporates a rooftop patio and 27 underground parking spaces. Self-storage units that Burger owns are being relocated to 1500 Railroad St. in Glen Osborne to make way for the new building. Construction should be completed in late 2012.
“It’s a proud day,” Bouchard told the crowd of dignitaries who gathered under a white tent at the empty site to witness the groundbreaking.
About 25 Esmark tenants will reside in the building, with the remaining space open to additional tenants. Bouchard was reluctant to name some of the tenants planning to relocate in the building.
Gregory Pilewicz, president of Esmark, said the new headquarters project has been in the works for about two years.
Founded in 2003, Esmark has established an array of operating companies, with its two largest business segments being steel service and oil and gas production. Other specialties include energy, industrial manufacturing, aviation, business services and realty. Many employees are based in Meadville, Cleveland and Chicago. Bouchard said about 360,000 tons of steel product was shipped this year, a 25 percent increase that is expected to grow next year.
Starting from humble beginnings in Chicago, the company grew to become the fourth largest American steel producer before the sale of its largest asset in 2008 to Russia’s OAO Severstal. Since 2009, Esmark has been re-acquiring some of its original steel assets, including from Severstal, and Bouchard said revenue is up $20 billion, with steel earning $10 million in profits this year. He expects those numbers to grow next year, as well.
Seventy-five percent of the company’s employees are still based in Chicago, but Bouchard, a Chicago native, said the dream was always to bring the business to the Pittsburgh area. He gave the credit to Esmark’s entire management team.
Wearing white hard hats, seven men dipped golden shovels into the dirt. The groundbreaking included Bouchard, Burger, Pilewicz, Edgeworth Mayor Wayne Murphy, State Rep. Mark Mustio and candidate for Congress Keith Rothfus.
Rothfus, who lives on Quaker Road, said he can remember as far back as when a Friendly’s ice cream shop was on the site and later a pizza shop. He said the site has been empty for quite some time.
“It’s exciting. I’ve been driving by this empty spot for 15 years. It’s a prime location,” Rothfus said.
The property is next to the Ohio River.
Burger said the building will face the traffic light at Hazel Lane and include a second entry point with the expansion of a new road. Plans call for 125 free parking spaces, he said, adding that one of the biggest highlights is the rooftop patio overlooking the river.
Edgeworth Manager Marty McDaniel believes the headquarters will boost the local economy.
“I think it’ll be a good addition,” McDaniel said. “It’s a very great building. I think it’ll bring jobs to the community,” he said.
“This is a pro-business community. We’ve had nothing but support to put up the building,” Bouchard said.
Bouchard, who lives three blocks from the site, said the choice to bring the headquarters to the Sewickley Valley was easy because company officials are trying their best to purchase business here and promote Western Pennsylvania.
Choosing Edgeworth as opposed to Sewickley proper was based solely on space. He said the 2.25 acres in Edgeworth provide enough room to build the 39,000 square-foot building, as opposed to working with a smaller footprint in Sewickley.