By Barry Dalton
MEXICO, Mo.–In east central Missouri, HarbisonWalker International (HWI) currently operates brick refractories in Vandalia and Fulton and a refractory machine shop in Mexico.
Next to HWI’s machine shop is the property where A.P. Green Refractories Company not only produced bricks for NASA launch pads but employed two generations of brick workers in Audrain County.
ANH Refractories, as HWI was formerly called, included North American Refractories Company (NARCO), Harbison-Walker Refractories Company and A. P. Green. Before changing its name in 2015, ANH Refractories liquidated most of its Mexico assets.
“HWI sold the [A.P. Green Refractories] property in the mid-2000s,” said Jennifer Faines, PR digital communications for Harbison-Walker International (HWI) in Pittsburg. “So [we have] not owned it for more than a decade.”
According to a crew member that is currently leveling the plant for salvage, a Mississippi-based company bought the property from the company who originally purchased it from HWI.
Dan Riddick, a truck driver who said he is a subcontractor for the Mississippi excavating company, said that the steel being salvaged is being taken to Sedalia.
“They took all of them beams out of there, and this is what’s left,” Reddick said. “They’ll sell that [steel] plate stuff too.”
Riddick said his trucking company has been running so many loads that the excavating company couldn’t keep up.
“I told them the other day, you guys are either going to get another machine and operator in here or you’re going to get somebody else to haul the steel,” Riddick said.
The four-person crew doing the salvaging work is renting a house in Mexico. They hope to have the A.P. Green plant “to the concrete level” by the end of the year. The crew has rented three Doosan sheers in Columbia along with a loading machine.
“They got that other [sheering] machine in there and it’s going a lot quicker [now],” Riddick added.
Everything salvaged from the plant will be recycled [locally] to keep costs down.
“It’s all staying in Missouri so win-win,” the Mississippi crew member said. “It’s being recycled in Missouri and probably be used here.”
The work to level and recycle the plant began about a month and half ago.
“Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be out of here, hopefully, that’s the plan. They’re stretching us out pretty thin right now. Two guys already tried to quit.”
Note: After the Vandalia Leader interviewed the Mississippi crew member, he called and requested that his name and the company’s name not be published. We agreed to honor his request.