Firm combats downturn with soldier sculptures

 

Teddy Clampard, a Nucor employee, stands next to a finished steel soldier. The cutouts will be shipped from the Nucor steel plant in Starkville to National Guard armories throughout Mississippi.

Teddy Clampard, a Nucor employee, stands next to a finished steel soldier. The cutouts will be shipped from the Nucor steel plant in Starkville to National Guard armories throughout Mississippi. Photo by: Kelly Tippett

 

Jeffrey Jordan, a Nucor steel plant employee, makes sure steel is being cut correctly inside the Starkville plant. Nucor recently produced seven steel soldiers for local Army National Guard units and the company is now working to make even more of the steel cutouts for armories throughout Mississippi.

 

Teddy Clampard and David Carwyle measure steel before cutting out soldier sculptures at the Nucor steel plant in Starkville.

 

 

Tim Pratt

 

 

STARKVILLE -- The factory floor inside the Nucor steel plant in Starkville is long, loud and bustling with working men. 

 


Enormous steel beams sit row by row, and bright sparks bounce off freshly cut metal. 

 


Nucor, which has been in Starkville since it purchased Gulf States Manufacturers in 2007, specializes in making steel buildings for companies looking to grow their business. During the recent economic downturn, however, demand for Nucor''s services has dropped considerably, President Danny Coggins said. 

 


But instead of laying off employees, as so many other companies around the nation have done in recent months, Nucor has found a creative way to cut costs and keep its workers busy. 

 


Nucor recently produced seven steel soldiers for local Army National Guard units, and the company now is working to make even more of the 6 1/2-foot steel cutouts for armories throughout Mississippi. When completed, Nucor will have produced 80 soldiers out of about 10 tons of steel, Coggins said. 

 


The soldiers are in the shape of the Army National Guard logo, with a man holding a rifle at his hip. Nucor also is producing miniature versions of the soldiers, which stand at about 18 inches tall, for employees and clients, and is considering selling them to the public. 

 


According to Coggins, the project not only shows Nucor''s commitment to the U.S. military, but also keeps the company''s 168 employees on the clock during these slow economic times. Business is down nearly 50 percent, Coggins said. 

 


"Nucor''s policy is to lay off costs, not people," Coggins said. "We save costs every way we can, but we''re also looking for ways, looking for projects, to keep our employees busy and still serve the community. I think this is a great project." 

 


Jeffrey Jordan is one of the Nucor employees who has stayed busy with the National Guard project. Jordan''s son, Steven Miller, is in the Army Reserves and is about to ship out to basic training, so the project is especially meaningful, Jordan said. 

 


"It makes me proud to do it," Jordan said. "I''ve always been a supporter of the military and, now that my son is in it, I''m an even bigger supporter. They''re protecting our lives and our freedoms, so this is something I''m happy to do." 

 


Jordan also was grateful of Nucor''s policy, which at times has cut back on employee hours, but at least leaves workers with a paycheck and health benefits. 

 


"I''m appreciative of this," Jordan said. "If not for (Nucor''s policy), I might not even have a job right now." 

 


The company also does smaller things, like leaving lights off in hallways and rooms not in use, so it pays less on electric bills. 

 


"We''re just doing everything we can to save money," Coggins said.

 

 

 

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