SteelCoast completes acquisition of Esco’s former assets

BY STEVE CLARK/The Brownsville Herald

Article published May 3, 2017


BROWNSVILLE – More than two years after shutting down operations, the former Esco Marine Inc. ship recycling yard will restart operations under new ownership and a new name: SteelCoast.

The new company is a joint venture of Hilco Redevelopments Partners, a unit of Hilco Global, and MCM Marine Services, an affiliate of MCM Management Corp.

Gary Epstein, Hilco Global’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said the purchase of assets from the previous owner was completed Monday evening and that operations would restart immediately. Kris Wood, Esco’s former vice president of administration, was tapped as SteelCoast CEO.

Esco ceased operations in February 2015, putting 300 employees out of work, and filed for bankruptcy the following month. The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga and two smaller vessels, the USS Shenandoah and USS Yellowstone, have been sitting partially disassembled since then.

SteelCoast plans to hire 130 employees by the end of May and 80 to 90 more during the coming months, Epstein said. Assuming the company can drum up enough business, the aim is to get employment numbers back to where they were during Esco’s heyday, he said. SteelCoast will dismantle oil rigs, locomotives, railcars and automobiles in addition to ships, Epstein said.

Roberto Perez, Hilco Redevelopment executive vice president and SteelCoast board member, said the company is confident, following lengthy due diligence, that Brownsville offers a “very substantial growth path.”

Putting together a deal to acquire and relaunch the recycling yard was complex given the nature of the assets and the imperative of maintaining the client relationship with the federal government, he said. Rob Mardigian, CEO of MCM and SteelCoast board member, said Hilco and MCM have collaborated on industrial remediation and redevelopment projects in recent years, including automobile manufacturing sites, power plants and, most recently, a 3,100-acre redevelopment called Tradepoint Atlantic, once the site of Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore, Md.

“Hilco and MCM have become very proficient at identifying new opportunities for industrial facilities that many have viewed as too challenging to tackle,” he said.

Another project underway is the redevelopment of the old Exelon Boston Edison power plant, which will bring jobs and economic vitality back to the depressed area of South Boston, Epstein said.

“If you look at our track record at Hilco Global, we are very proud to be restarting some of these old industrial manufacturing operations and sites, and reemploying people in a fresh new way,” he said.

For employment information, go to www.steelcoastus. com.