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'98 orders look strong for aluminum

The Aluminum Company of America's (Alcoa) Davenport Works is planning a busy and full year in 1998, according to company officials.

Alcoa's plant near Riverdale, Iowa, is like a giant job-shop producing aluminum sheet for auto, aerospace and other specialty markets.

The factory and adjoining headquarters of the aerospace and commercial rolled products division employ about 2,600 people.

The Aluminum, Brick and Glass Workers International Union, which is merging with the United Steel Workers Union, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represent the hourly workers.

Orders for aluminum heat-treated products made in Riverdale that will go into airplanes and automobiles, and tooling plate for tooling fixtures, vacuum presses and computer chips are especially strong this year, Tim Wilkinson, vice president, communications for Alcoa's Aerospace/Commercial Rolled Products Division, said.

Metal for memory disks and metal for intermodal containers also are strong, he said.

``The light sheet market continues to grow and we are anticipating a strong year,'' he said.

Factory employment is expected to remain steady as new workers are brought on board to replace those who retire.

The plant has changed the way it processes aluminum, which is increasing production and using more brain power, Mr. Wilkinson said.

Although Alcoa does not release operating earnings for each of its locations, the Pittsburgh-based corporation recently completed a dynamite year.

Alcoa posted $805.1 million in net income on record revenues of $13.3 billion for fiscal 1997. The company is well on it way toward reaching its goal of $20 billion in revenues in the year 2000.

``The 1997 year was one of continued worldwide growth for Alcoa,'' chairman and chief executive Paul O'Neill said. ``Increased demand for our products, coupled with relentless improvements in operating efficiencies, more than offset lower fabricated aluminum prices.

``We have accelerated our efforts to be the provider of choice in every region of the world, which is playing a part in reaching our year 2000 goal to have $20 billion in revenues,'' Mr. O'Neill continued. ``We intend to continue to be so good at what we do that we are the supplier of choice, increasingly seen as a local producer everywhere in the world.''

-- By Rita Pearson (February 9, 1998)

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