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Newell chemical complex gets new owner

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 1:10 p.m.

Henwil Corp. had a rather auspicious beginning at its new facility in Newell.

“About three months after we initially took it over, we turned on water and our plant manager saw the asphalt rising from the ground and we soon had a small geyser rising out of the ground due to water main break,” recalled Todd Groff, director of marketing.

“It had been mothballed for about nine months. Everything was laying in water lines for nine months.”

Henwil purchased the former Nitrochem plant in February 2004 out of bankruptcy. Nitrochem had been producing nitric acid there before it closed its doors.

Henwil is based out of Beaver, where it has been located for decades. Its offices are still located there as well as the company's sales staff.

At the time that the company purchased the Newell facility, it was looking for a location to begin producing alum - a product used in the purification of water at water treatment plants.

Company officials spent more than eight years working toward its manufacturing goals.

“We were looking for a manufacturing facility for quite a while when we found this site,” Groff said. “We were looking for site that had rail and barge access. This location had both.”

Despite the good location, the facility required much renovation.

“A lot of time and money has been invested to rebuild the plant to meet all regulations and standards,” the company said in a recently released statement. “We are just getting started.”

The first alum production occurred in November.

The product is distributed regionally and nationally. Although shipping primarily in the tri-state region of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the product is periodically shipped to the Midwest, west, Canada and South America.

“We have 16 full-time people at the Newell plant with a goal to increase employment by 10 to 15 percent over the next decade,” Groff said.

“Our facility currently now holds 20,000 square footage of warehousing,” he added. “We are growing and expanding and looking forward to bringing new jobs to the greater Pittsburgh area.”

Groff explained that river water contains silt, mud and other materials that cloud the water and make it undrinkable. Alum is a part of the process used to purify that water.

“Alum is the first step in the process of taking it from river water to drinking water,” Groff said.

The Newell plant's products are marketed exclusively to drinking water plants.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or