Hamilton Specialty Bar to close after latest sale bid fails

All hope to save Hamilton Specialty Bar vanished after potential buyer backs out.

Since January the company failed to find a new buyer to save the plant, affecting more than 1,000 people

All hope to save Hamilton Specialty Bar vanished Tuesday after potential buyer backs out leaving the company with no other choice, but to close the plant. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

A last-ditch effort to sell Hamilton Specialty bar has failed.

After months of uncertainty the future is clear, the plant's doors will close. 

Since the company went into receivership Jan. 6, its fate rested on the ability to find a new owner and after multiple deadlines, it failed to do so.

United Steelworkers Local 4752 president Mickey Mercanti held onto hope until the bitter end.

A lot of us are like 55 over — who's going to hire us?- United Steelworkers Local 4752 president Mickey Mercanti

He was positive the company was going to be sold to New York-based firm KAL Advisory Partners until they walked away Tuesday.

"We actually thought we had a deal," said Mercanti, who represents about 200 workers.

He says over the past six weeks, KAL spent a lot of time and money going through the books.

Potential buyer 'scared' off

According to Mercanti, KAL had confirmed verbal orders from one major customer but they weren't ready to sign a purchase order, which is what ultimately "scared" KAL off, says Mercanti.

"They would never have left if they had the customers," he said.

"I'm sick to my stomach over all this, but more anger than anything else. We should never be in this spot," he said.

There are also about 50 salaried workers and around 400 retired workers and their families who are also affected — more than 1,000 people in Hamilton.

"A lot of us are like 55 over — who's going to hire us? We worked at a steel plant all our life."

Executives said in January they had a "cash flow problem" and wouldn't be running the company, which sprung the company's downward spiral.

A third party assumed control of the company during the in court-supervised bankruptcy protection or restructuring process.

City council even went to bat for the company of over 100 years when they voted last week to give some future tax relief to make it easier for a future owner to pay the taxes.

Many of the workers be go on unemployment while trying to find other work or even head into early retirement says Mercanti.


Laura Clementson is a journalist with CBC News. She can be reached at laura.clementson@cbc.ca. Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraClementson.