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Riverside Iron in Gouverneur preparing for production

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GOUVERNEUR — Riverside Iron is poised to reopen to manufacture miscellaneous and ornamental steel, bringing the potential of more than a dozen jobs.

Eric S. Tessmer closed on the purchase of the business Friday from Duane Winters, who is providing $350,000 in financing.

A native of Gouverneur, Mr. Tessmer has watched the zinc and talc industries fade, along with General Motors in Massena.

“It’s sad to see those jobs go,” he said.

But he is glad to bring back what he can.

Mr. Winters, who retired and closed the 26 Water St. business two years ago, is going to help with the shop, Mr. Tessmer said. Former manager David Desormeaux is already back at his job.

The company’s workers’ compensation insurance should be in place by the end of the week. Mr. Tessmer plans to hire a couple of workers soon to prepare the shop for reopening.

He already has about 30 applications from job-seekers who learned about the opportunity from a posting on social media, including several from former employees.

He spends most of his days chasing work.

“As soon as I get orders in, I can start hiring folks,” he said.

The shop will produce items that could include stairs, railings and signs.

Mr. Tessmer’s plan is to get enough work to eventually keep up to 15 people on the payroll. Another half dozen might be hired over time for a second shift.

“If I can get enough work to start a night shift, I’ll do it,” he said.

For now, the company will not do installations in the field.

“It’s in the future,” Mr. Tessmer said. “I just don’t know how far in the future.”

He also plans to improve the appearance of the property.

“As we get going, I will be able to see where the most need is,” Mr. Tessmer said. “Number one on the list is a safe facility and to update the equipment. Then we’ll worry about the shell.”

Mr. Tessmer has the background to run Riverside Iron, which was started in 1962.

He worked a dozen years for Cives Steel Corp., Gouverneur, as well as a general contractor for ECI Eichleay in Pittsburgh. He left his job as operations manager at Stonebridge Steel Erection, South Plainfield, N.J., on April 30.

A resident of Fowler, Mr. Tessmer tired of being on the road and was looking for work closer to home when he saw the lights on at Riverside Iron one night three years ago. He stopped in and asked Mr. Winters if he was interested in selling.

“It took him a while to get back to me — about a year and a half,” Mr. Tessmer said.

Assistance has come from many sources, including Cives and Stonebridge Steel Erection — which are both working to pass along work to Riverside Iron — and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, which is providing up to $200,000 in financing for working capital and which helped him develop his plan.

He has applied to the New York Power Authority for the Recharge New York program that would provide an allocation of low-cost power.

“Patty Ritchie has been extremely helpful to me in emphasizing the importance of this project to the IDA and Power Authority,” Mr. Tessmer said of the state senator, R-Huevelton.

“She’s the reason I know they are going to address my possible allocation in July.”

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