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Former IT Group struggles

| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2002

International Technology Corp., later renamed The IT Group Inc., came to the Pittsburgh area from California six years ago with a reputation as one of, if not the best hazardous waste removal firms in the country.

Formed in 1926, the company was the first to use floating booms to help clean up oil spills. In 1968, the company gained worldwide attention when it retrofitted the Queen Mary ocean liner as a tourist attraction. The company's financial zenith came in 1999, when annual revenue topped $1 billion for the first time in the company's history.

Then came the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. The reverberations also blasted cracks into the IT Group's foundation, paving the way for its rapid descent into bankruptcy in January and eventual extinction.

Today, about 325 workers occupy the Mosside Boulevard office in Monroeville, about half the number who worked there at this time last year. The operation is now known as Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Inc., a division of Shaw Group Inc., the Louisiana-based energy-industry construction company that purchased the assets of bankrupt IT Group in April for $185 million.

In January, the IT Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing $1.34 billion in assets and $1.08 billion in debt. Within hours of the bankruptcy filing, IT Group announced plans to sell most of its assets to the Shaw Group.

One month earlier, IT Group announced it was closing or downsizing 22 facilities companywide and eliminating 400 jobs, including 21 at its headquarters. In March, the company terminated another 450 workers, including 32 from its headquarters.

The vast majority of the personnel cutbacks companywide already had occurred by the time Shaw Group closed on the acquisition of the IT Group's assets in May, and Monroeville's headquarters was staffed with about 340 people, according to Christine N. Mollere, spokeswoman for the Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group.

"Actually, it was pretty much a wash. About 15 workers were let go in Monroeville, but we've since hired them back. Others left voluntarily during the bankruptcy process. There wasn't a lot to do once we made the acquisition," Mollere said.

Mollere said Shaw Group intends to operate the Monroeville site as an operations office, as corporate functions have been moved to Baton Rouge. The operations center in Monroeville remains the company's only presence in Pennsylvania.

"We're integrating very well. From a business perspective, we're building and rebuilding relationships with clients. We're expecting them to go forward as a major contributor," Mollere said.

Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure still performs many of the old IT Group's functions, including solid waste services, environmental cleanup, facilities management, real estate restoration, municipal infrastructure and homeland security.

Only two years ago, the IT Group employed about 7,500 people at 80 offices nationwide, including 524 in Monroeville.

Mollere said it was hard to determine why the IT Group was the only one of 947 of the nation's largest companies that failed to file a certification of its financial results or request an extension from the Securities and Exchange Commission. She said the IT Group may have appeared on the SEC list because of pre-bankruptcy revenues.

"There is still a bankrupt company that's in the process of closing its books. They no longer have a chief executive officer to respond. It's all rolled into the Shaw Group now," Mollere said. The Shaw Group's filing deadline with the SEC is Nov. 29.

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