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Niagara LaSalle cites tough market conditions in closing of South Buffalo plant

Niagara LaSalle Corp. says “persistent challenging market conditions” drove its decision to close its South Buffalo steel bar manufacturing plant this summer.

The Buffalo News reported this week that the Hopkins Street plant would close July 31, eliminating 49 jobs. In its first comments about the closing, Indiana-based Niagara LaSalle said: “Becoming a leaner organization is necessary to better compete in today’s environment and ensure Niagara LaSalle’s long-term viability.”

Niagara LaSalle didn’t say why the Buffalo plant was selected over others for closing; the company on its website lists six U.S. production facilities, including Buffalo.

“We thank our employees and the community of Buffalo for their dedication and support over the years,” the company said. “We are working to facilitate unemployment and other related benefits for our work force.”

The Hopkins Street plant has survived ownership changes over the years.

In 2011, Niagara LaSalle was acquired by Optima Specialty Steel, a Miami-based subsidiary of the Optima Acquisitions LLC investment firm, from Kohlberg & Co., a private equity firm. Kohlberg bought Niagara LaSalle’s parent company, Niagara Corp., in 2006. Niagara Corp. had acquired the South Buffalo plant in 1997 from Niagara Cold Drawn Corp.

In 2000, workers at the plant rejected an organizing effort by the United Steelworkers of America.

Niagara LaSalle’s steel products are used in industries such as automotive, construction equipment, agricultural equipment, aerospace, and oil and gas. Last year, the company sold its chrome bar plated product line.