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Pittsburgh Metallurgical Company, Incorporated - Lehman Brothers Collection

Pittsburgh Metallurgical Company, Incorporated

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The Pittsburgh Metallurgical Company was incorporated in Delaware in 1913. Pittsburgh Metallurgical originated as a manufacturer of alloy pig iron. It went on to focus its production on ferro-alloys, especially chrome and silicon alloys for use in the production of stainless steel and electrical steel. The vast majority of the company’s products—as much as 92 percent by 1961—were used in the steel industry.

Pittsburgh Metallurgical was based not in Pittsburgh, but in Niagara Falls, New York. Power supply was crucial to the production of alloys, which requires very high temperature furnaces. Thus the company’s plants were built close to power sources, such as Niagara Falls or the Tennessee Valley Authority power plant.

The original Niagara Falls plant was built in 1919 with three furnaces. The alloy industry expanded greatly during the Second World War, and Pittsburgh Metallurgical expanded in response to increased demand. The company completed a factory in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1941. This factory had its own docks for delivering ore and transporting finished alloys. In 1948 the company began firing alloys in a new plant in Calvert City, Kentucky. The Calvert City plant became the company’s principal factory during the 1950s, running fourteen smelting furnaces. The Calvert City plant was built on the Tennessee River, which allowed the company to import iron alloys by barge and carry its products over the Ohio and Mississippi to clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and to other cities. The Tennessee Valley Authority provided power to the Calvert City plant. 

Pittsburgh Metallurgical produced two primary types of iron alloys: chrome and silicon. Chrome alloys were used in the production of stainless steel. By adding chromium to iron, the company produced a strong, heat-resistant, wear-resistant alloy. Chrome alloys accounted for $77,500 in sales in 1935 and $10 million by 1954. By 1961 chrome alloys accounted for 60 percent of the company’s output; 30 percent was in silicon alloys, which were used in the production of electrical equipment to manufacture electrical sheets for transformers and generators. By the late 1950s Pittsburgh Metallurgical began producing a small amount of manganese compounds, which provide strength and hardness to steel.

The company paid cash dividends every year since 1939. Net sales were $5.8 million by 1945, $11.2 million in 1950, and $17.5 million in 1954. By 1961, the year before Pittsburgh Metallurgical was acquired, its sales were $36 million.

Air Reduction Company of New York (known as Airco) acquired Pittsburgh Metallurgical in 1962 and ran the company as a subsidiary. Airco bought Pittsburgh Metallurgical in a stock swap worth $28 million.

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