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Pittsburgh Steel Company - Lehman Brothers Collection

Pittsburgh Steel Company

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True to its name, the Pittsburgh Steel Company manufactured steel products from its base in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company primarily focused on producing tubular, wire, and partially finished steel products. Pittsburgh Steel Company was incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1901, arising out of the merger of Pittsburgh Steel Hoop Company (founded in 1899) and Pittsburgh Steel Company (founded in 1901). The company operated plants in Monessen and Allenport, Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh Steel Company’s tubular steel products included tubular casing, drill pipe, couplings, pressure tubing, boiler tubes, locomotive flues, headers for boilers, and railway axles. Its wire products included wire, wire fabric, barbed wire, nails, and wire fence. The company produced multiple wire types, including galvanized wire, coppered wire, and stainless steel wire. Most of the company’s wire production was sold to manufacturers and fabricators of nuts, bolts, springs, and appliances. Wire fabric was mostly used in construction, often for reinforcing plaster or concrete. Semi-finished products included rods, ingots, billets, and blooms, usually custom-made for a customer. The company also mined its own coke until its coal mines were depleted in 1945. During the Second World War, production greatly increased and shifted toward aircraft steel, shells, and rocket tubing.

Pittsburgh Steel also owned interests in several other companies. Among these were 50 percent of the Orote Iron Company, 22 percent of the Bennett Mining Company, 16 percent of the Mesaba-Cliffs Mining Company, and 10 percent of the Plymouth Mining Company. The company also operated several subsidiaries: the Monessen Southwestern Railway Company, the Pittsburgh Steel Products Company, the Johnson Steel & Wire Company, Pioneer Steel Ball Inc., the National Steel Fabric Company, and the Standard Land and Improvement Company.

A total of 12,000-14,000 employees worked for Pittsburgh Steel in 1931; the workforce was 9,700 in 1948 and rose to 10,500 in 1952. The company operated under a five-day week since 1931 and contracted with the United Steelworkers of America, under the C.I.O. umbrella, since 1937.

Net sales for Pittsburgh Steel were $20.8 million in 1938, $66.6 million in 1943, and $85.1 million in 1947. Net losses in 1944 and 1945 were offset by big gains in 1947. Net sales in 1950 were $118 million, with the highest net income in over thirty years. The company’s sales were becoming increasingly international over the 1940s. International sales amounted to only 3 percent of sales in 1938, but mounted to 18 percent of sales in 1948.

The Pittsburgh Steel Company merged with the Wheeling Steel Company in 1968, creating the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Company (now the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation).

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