River Steel to close La Crosse & West Salem facilities

A local steel manufacturer is officially closing two locations.

According to the Department of Workforce Development, River Steel will be ending operations at both its La Crosse and West Salem facilities.

The company produces a wide range of steel parts for various machines and structures but says a downtown in the global mining industry and Caterpillar choosing to fabricate materials in Mexico instead led to the difficult decision.

In a statement, River Steel CEO Tim Brennan says:

“Since the collapse of global mining following 2013, and Caterpillar’s decision to move River Steel’s fabricated products from Western Wisconsin to Mexico, River Steel has worked to reopen and expand into other lines of fabrication.

While we have celebrated many successes, and our skilled workforce has had involvement in many remarkable projects in recent years, we have come to the difficult decision to suspend and discontinue our operations at both the La Crosse and West Salem facilities. In recent weeks, we have had discussions with industry partners to try to facilitate the continuation of operations at one or both facilities, but market uncertainties have put this option on hold for the foreseeable future.

We have treasured the many relationships over the years, with valued employees, suppliers, business partners, and clients. These relationships have provided purpose and meaning to a dedicated and talented workforce for generations, and our concern goes out to those employees and their families.

Since 1954, River Steel has been dedicated to clients with local, regional, and more so global markets. These partnerships were honed in respect and cooperation, and were mutually satisfying and beneficial. Ultimately though, and only recently, the purchase of Bucyrus International by Caterpillar in 2011 was too much for us to overcome, as the export mining industry slumped, and Caterpillar overburdened, overregulated, and ultimately abandoned its supply base.”

The closures are expected to impact the remaining 20 jobs. Brennan says many of the affected employees have already found other jobs.