U.S. Silica closing offices after 80 years here
U.S. Silica Company will close its corporate offices in Berkeley Springs as a result of combining business functions with General Chemical Industrial Products, Inc., the company announced last week.
U.S. Silica and its precursor, Pennsylvania Glass Sand Corporation, have been headquartered here for more than 80 years.
By mid-2008, most of U.S. Silica's administrative office duties will be moved to General Chemical's offices in East Hanover, New Jersey.
U.S. Silica currently employs 55 people in their corporate offices, which are located next to the company's sand mining facility, just north of Berkeley Springs.
U.S. Silica president John Ulizio said severance packages and outplacement assistance will be offered to the employees losing their jobs.
Some employees will be offered interviews for positions in New Jersey. Others may remain with U.S. Silica at the local plant, which presently employs 78 people, Ulizio said.
"A detailed plan has not yet been worked out," Ulizio said.
Those who work in the quarry and sand processing should not be affected, he said.
"As long as people buy sand, the mine will continue to operate," Ulizio said.
Equity firms shuffle cards
The corporate office shakeup came shortly after U.S. Silica was sold by one New York City-based private equity firm to another.
Harvest Partners LLC, the firm that bought U.S. Silica from CCMP Capital on August 9, turned around and sold the company to Harbinger on October 18.
"Harbinger" is the name used by Harbinger Capital Partners Master Fund I Ltd. and Harbinger Capital Partners Special Situation Fund.
The investment group is also
the principal owner of General Chemical.
U.S. Silica produces quality silica sand and General Chemical produces soda ash, the main ingredients needed for the manufacture of glass and glass products.
The two companies will combine many corporate functions for cost savings, Ulizio said. He thought the U.S. Silica Company name would be retained.
In a November 7 press release, General Chemical announced it had also purchased Kings Mountain Mining, Suzorite Mica Products and Attapulgite Mining from Zemex Industrial Minerals, Inc. in what appears to be an industry consolidation.
80 years here
U.S. Silica Company began as
Pennsylvania Glass Sand Corporation (PGS), which was chartered in July, 1927 and soon absorbed several other sand mining operations in Berkeley Springs and Great Cacapon.
In 1968, PGS was acquired by ITT, which sold the business to U.S. Borax & Chemical Company in 1985. Soon after, the name was changed to U.S. Silica Company.
Since early 1996, U.S. Silica has been owned and operated by a series of investment firms.
It now appears that the office building will be vacant after the corporate offices close late next spring.