top of page


Stylized ARMCO Mural

Ohio businessman George M. Verity founded The American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) in 1900 to produce steel components for the roofing company he managed. Verity and his partners launched ARMCO's Central Works in Middleton with the goal of bringing three stages of manufacturing—producing steel ingots, reducing the ingots to bars, and turning the bars into roofing components—under one roof.

The partners quickly learned that success in the steel industry depended on two factors: constant innovation in specialty steels and the retention of hardworking, loyal workers. Their early commitment to technical innovation and good labor-management relations set the course for ARMCO’s future.

ARMCO expanded production in 1905 with the acquisition of the Muskingum Valley Steel Company in Zanesville, Ohio. Expansion continued over the next few decades with the opening of plants in Ashland, Kansas City, Baltimore, Huston, and Butler.

The Butler Works traced its roots to 1908 with the establishment of the Forged Steel Wheel Company (FSWC), which produced railroad wheels for Butler’s Standard Steel Car Company. By 1916, the wheel factory was operating ten open hearth furnaces. After Columbia Steel Company purchased FSWC in the early 1920’s, the Butler Works team focused on implementing continuously rolling wide steel strips into coils. However, the ARMCO plant in Ashland, Kentucky was developing the same process at the same time. Learning of the work being done in Butler, ARMCO’s lawyers notified the Butler Works that they were violating ARMCO patents.

Even though the Butler Works owners also held patents, they sold everything to ARMCO to avoid costly litigation. ARMCO paid approximately twenty million dollars for the Butler Works in 1927. With the addition of Butler Works, ARMCO owned all patent rights to the revolutionary technique of running continuous rolling steel mills.


Mural Details


Nancy Bennett


Butler Eagle


114 W Diamond St, Butler, PA

The Great Depression seriously impacted plant operations and schedules. ARMCO management tried to keep workers employed by laying off some for several weeks then rotating them back in or offering them part time hours. Those strategies enabled ARMCO to keep as many people as they possibly could on the payroll. Ultimately, retention of their labor force through the Depression meant ARMCO was able to quickly ramp up production when the United States entered World War II.

During the war, ARMCO achieved a remarkable production record. Working around the clock, ARMCO workers produced steel for armor plate, forgings for ships, and specialty steel for military grade equipment. As men left to serve in the armed forces, Butler's women stepped in to keep the mills running. When scrap metal became scarce, the people of Butler spent hours scouring for metal to donate to employee scrap drives. In total, they gathered over 1,300,000 pounds of scrap metal for the mill and the war effort.

The post-war years marked a period of prosperity for the nation and Butler ARMCO. On September 7, 1950, ARMCO celebrated its 50th anniversary at the old Butler Fair Grounds. The mayor of Butler declared it "ARMCO Day" and the entire community turned out for the grand celebration.

In 1999, ARMCO announced a merger with AK Steel. Ironically, ARMCO was originally AK Steel's parent company, but AK had grown to the point where it earned the most profit per ton when compared to its competitors. Together, the two companies were projected to share annual revenue of more that $4.1 billion and assets of $5.2 billion.

Scrap drive on in front of Diamond Park on Butler's Main Street
bottom of page