July 30, 2014

Elyria
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Spending cuts would hit home

ELYRIA — Employees and officials of Nelson Stud Welding are nervously awaiting President Barack Obama’s speech regarding possible cuts to naval programs next week in Newport News, Va.

“Depending on what happens that could affect up to 10 percent of our workforce,” Nelson Stud President and CEO Ken Caratelli said late Friday.

The Elyria-based company, a subsidiary of Doncasters Group Ltd., manufactures welding equipment, specialized weld fasteners and other components used on virtually every ship in the U.S. Navy, according to Caratelli.

“Literally every class of Navy ship, whether it be submarines, frigates and destroyers, or aircraft carriers, utilize these products and processes,” Caratelli said.

“The (naval) goal is to have

over 300 commissioned ships in

operation at any given time,” he said. “We are on every one of those vessels.”

If delays or cuts in funding for the Navy’s aircraft carrier construction and maintenance program, which focuses on aircraft carriers, are enacted, it could result in the loss of jobs for more than 20 workers at Nelson Stud’s facilities in Elyria, LaGrange and Westlake, Caratelli said.

The company employs more than 200 people.

Caratelli declined to give a figure for the size of the firm’s contracts with the Navy.

“It’s a good part of our business,” Caratelli said. “There’s a lot of content in those products. Those carriers are like cities, with 5,000 sailors and Marines aboard.”

Obama is slated to speak Tuesday at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia regarding potential defense cuts to naval construction and maintenance programs.

It is widely assumed that cuts to naval defense programs are pending as part of the sequester, which became law in 2011 during the congressional battle over raising the country’s debt limit. Cuts of

8 percent for the military, and

5 percent for domestic programs were structured to be so draconian that they would force Republicans and Democrats to come to terms and work out a deal by the end of 2012.

The plan also called for the Bush tax cuts to expire Jan. 1, but that was before an agreement between Obama and Congress calling for taxes to be increased for those earning more than $400,000 a year.

At the same time, implementation of $85 billion in tax cuts was delayed until Friday in hopes of hammering out a deal.

Last week, Adm. Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that anticipated cuts included cancelation of deployments, postponement of ship and aircraft maintenance and suspension of training programs.

Nelson Stud plans to invite U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan,

R-Urbana, to tour its Elyria facilities “to show him what we can do and how it’s used.”

Jordan represents a portion of Lorain County.

“Even (U.S. Sen.) Sherrod Brown listens when we talk,” Caratelli said.

Over the years, Nelson Stud Welding has employed many veterans, and still does, according to Caratelli.

The company’s welding processes were invented by founder Ted Nelson during World War II, according to Caratelli.

“The first application used in the shipbuilding industry was in securing wooden decking over steel decks on aircraft carriers,” Caratelli said.

The issue of cuts carries “a lot of emotion for us beyond dollars and cents,” Caratelli said.

“The Navy is where this business and industry is founded,” he said.

Wire reports contributed to this story.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.