Strong auto industry boosts Rome’s Worthington

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Business at the Worthington Industries facility, 530 Henry St., “continues to be steady as the automotive industry production remains strong,” says Sonya Higginbotham, director of corporate communications at the Ohio-based company.

​The Rome site, which has 115 employees, makes a product called cold rolled strip steel which “requires a high level of expertise to meet the precise needs of our customers, going into car parts like bearings, drive chains and timing chains,” explained Higginbotham.

​The local operation was formerly known as Rome Strip Steel company, which dated back to 1926 and was acquired by Worthington in January 2015 for $55.5 million.

“We specialize in providing a custom product that’s hard to beat, thanks to our employees’ commitment to safety and quality,” Higginbotham said of the Rome facility. “Our teams are experts in their craft with decades of experience which has resulted in long-standing relationships with our customers.”

Higginbotham added, “last year we hired a safety manager and have a very active effort to identify opportunities for improvement. We’ve made the walkways safer by adding rails and have upgraded the safety guards on machines.”

As of Jan. 25, the site was at 161 days without a safety incident, Higginbotham observed. Incidents have declined by 75 percent since Worthington purchased the local business in 2015, she remarked, “but our goal is zero.”

The Rome facility’s operations manager continues to be Jack Ellison, who was named to the position in 2016, while Kim Martin continues as human resources manager.

Worthington remains active in the local community, supporting programs including the Rome Shop with a Cop, Relay for Life and the World Series of Bocce, said Higginbotham. It also hosted the Erie Canal Bicentennial celebration last July, she added.

The parent Worthington company, based in Columbus, Ohio, is a global diversified metals manufacturer. Its 2017 fiscal year net sales totaled $3 billion while net earnings were $204.5 million.

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