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WEIRTON STEEL INITIATES PROGRAM 'ASSURING WEIRTON'S FUTURE'; BROAD PROGRAM WILL IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY, INCREASE REVENUE, REDUCE EXPENSES

WEIRTON STEEL INITIATES PROGRAM 'ASSURING WEIRTON'S FUTURE'; BROAD PROGRAM WILL IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY, INCREASE REVENUE, REDUCE EXPENSES
 WEIRTON, W.Va., July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Weirton Steel Corporation (NYSE: WS) announced today a comprehensive program, called "Assuring Weirton's Future," which will assure the company's viability and success over the intermediate and long term.
 Herbert Elish, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Weirton, stated: "We have made tremendous strides upgrading and modernizing our operations over the past five years, making capital investments of over $500 million, so that today we have a very competitive manufacturing facility. However, we realize that being competitive by today's standards just isn't enough if we are to ensure the viability of our company five years from now. We must take significant additional actions if we are to compete successfully in the future."
 As a result, Elish said that Weirton's board of directors today approved a program, which is being called "Assuring Weirton's Future," aimed at capitalizing upon Weirton's significant strengths, while taking other actions that will minimize weaknesses.
 Elish announced that the company would be beginning a series of new intitiatives aimed at improving productivity and increasing revenues by emphasizing current and new market directions.
 He also announced a series of actions aimed at reducing Weirton's costs. "Despite all of our efforts, our costs -- particularly labor and benefit costs -- are significantly higher than many of our competitors, and they must be brought into line in order for us to compete successfully."
 In the last few years, Elish said, Weirton's raw material and energy costs have been reduced dramatically, coinciding with workforce reductions from 8,100 to 6,800. He stated that over the next five years, the workforce will need to be further reduced by approximately 25 percent, mostly through attrition. In that regard, he said that the company would be instituting a program of enriched retirement benefits.
 Elish said that the activities being announced today mark another watershed event in Weirton's long-term efforts to assure its viability and competitive position.
 "Keeping Weirton viable over the past few years in a continually changing and increasingly competitive industry, while coping with difficult economic conditions, has required the board and management to make tough decisions and to take decisive actions," he said. "Without the modernization program and cost reductions to date, Weirton would not have survived.
 "We have tremendous strengths at Weirton, upon which we must now capitalize: we have modernized our mill. We have a diversified mix of business, in both tin mill products and sheet products. We have reduced our workforce and costs considerably. We have instituted a total quality management program and employee change program which will serve as the foundation to launch our new initiatives. Through WEIRTEC, we continue to be a leader in devising new products and new uses for our existing products. Finally, we have a highly dedicated and capable group of employee shareholders.
 "However, even over the past few years since we initiated our modernization program, the industry in which we compete has changed dramatically. There is new low-cost capacity entering the market, and we are in a period of sustained low economic growth. Though we continue to realize the cost savings associated with new equipment, prices have declined significantly and offset much of that gain. Our competitors have kept pace and improved their technology and costs, as well.
 "Given the increased competition within the steel industry, today's standards are just not enough if the company is going to survive and flourish in the years ahead. We must be certain that we will be profitable enough to continue to make required investments to keep Weirton on a technological plane with our competitors. To do this we must improve productivity, increase revenues and decrease costs. It will take the cooperation of all employee shareholders, both labor and management, to accomplish these initiatives. We have cleared many hurdles in our short history, and I am confident that this mission will succeed."
 The major components of "Assuring Weirton's Future" are:
 -- New Marketing Initiatives: The identification of additional new market opportunities incorporating the expanded capabilities of our modernized equipment to become a more full product range supplier for the near and long terms.
 -- Customer Service Enhancements: To improve delivery performance through automated order tracking and operating unit scheduling to reduce inventories and cycle times.
 -- Operating Performance Improvement: A program to substantially reduce operating costs and maintain world-class quality.
 -- Health Care Cost Containment: Exploring options to contain the company's spiraling health care costs which are increasing at a rate of 18 percent a year.
 -- Enhanced Retirement Package: To offer an early retirement option consistent with the company's commitment to treat employees fairly.
 -0- 7/23/92
 /CONTACT: Richard W. Garan of Weirton Steel, 304-797-2728/
 (WS) CO: Weirton Steel Corporation ST: West Virginia IN: MNG SU:


DM-JT -- PG025 -- 2806 07/23/92 17:34 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 23, 1992
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