A rising demand for automotive aluminum to meet federal fuel mileage standards is helping Novelis in Oswego plan for the next five years, including spending millions of dollars on infrastructure and building projects and creating up to 250 new jobs.
Plant Manager Chris Smith says this is the first time in the plant's 51 year history that it has been able to provide employees with an extended plan. He says it's because the company's recent automotive contracts are longer than the majority of Novelis' prior business agreements... which lasted between one and two years.
"The key to our success here, going forward, is stability," Smith said. "Stability in the business, stability in the workforce, they go hand in hand. So what we wanted to do today, as we now have the visibility from a business perspective, is give the employees the opportunity to have that same sort of planning capability from the point of view of their wage and benefits, and how that's going to be effecting them over the next five years."
Smith says several projects at the Oswego plant will be completed within the next two years. Among them are another automotive aluminum finishing line and an 81,000 square foot recycling facility, which will melt down unused aluminum sent back from automakers for reuse.
Smith says the company is also moving away from beverage can rolling, which has been declining in recent years and is investing more heavily in automotive aluminum production to meet rising demand.
"The two automotive finishing lines that we've already started the commissioning on, one is close to completion, the other one is just starting," Smith said. "The third one they've just broken ground on a few months ago, so that's not going to be a valid production unit until the end of next year. We're also spending around $47 million on infrastructure projects."
Smith says the company will be able to sustain itself and grow for the next five to ten years by focusing on automotive aluminum. A sister plant in Kentucky is taking over some of the Oswego plant's beverage can rolling work.
Smith also noted that the announcement is not related in any way to a vote taken a couple months ago by the plant's employees to unionize, which failed.