Nation’s largest pipe manufacturer to expand operations in Arkansas



The country’s largest steel pipe and tube manufacturer, Zekelman Industries of Chicago plans to invest up to $120 million to expand its manufacturing plant in northeast Arkansas. The move means an increase to more than 300 employees at its Atlas Tube plant in Blytheville.

The company, in its announcement, stated it will also partner with Arkansas Northeastern College on a new workforce training initiative.

Along with the expansion, Zekelman said it would provide $250,000 to Arkansas Northeastern College to support area students in the steel industry and aviation maintenance degree programs. The funds, distributed over the next five years, will cover educational costs for at least 10 individuals annually who are obtaining associates of applied science. Benefitting Arkansas Northeastern College students will also have the opportunity to pursue potential internship positions at Atlas Tube’s facilities in Blytheville.

“Education and skills training are crucial to developing the next generation of workers. Our goal at Zekelman is to prepare, nurture and inspire students entering the thriving and well-paying steel industry,” said Tom Muth, chief operating officer.

The leading manufacturer of hollow structural sections and steel pipe, Zekelman currently operates two Atlas Tube facilities in Blytheville. Its new project will allow it to manufacture inline steel tube galvanizing products in size ranges not currently available in North America.

“Northeast Arkansas is powering a manufacturing boom in the Natural State and quickly becoming one of the top steel-producing regions in America,” said Governor Sanders. “I’m grateful that Zekelman Industries is not only expanding its footprint in this region but also investing in career and technical education. This type of public-private partnership is exactly what we need to train the next generation of steelworkers.”

Mississippi County is Atlas Tube’s primary manufacturing hub for its southeast and southwest operations. Since 2011, Zekelman Industries has completed multiple projects at its Blytheville site, including expanding and modernizing its plant and warehouse. In 2022, Atlas Tube opened a second facility, the world’s largest continuous ERW mill, at an adjoining property with a more than $250 million capital investment.