Disruption, Transformation, Rebirth: Steel Production Ends in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Curtis "Hank" Barnette exited Bethlehem Steel's boardroom with a sense of calm and purpose. He loved Bethlehem Steel. He had seen it prosper and decline over the previous 30 years, and he had given most of his life to shepherding it through change. Barnette was a soft-spoken man with graying hair and a serene countenance. He paused at the plate-glass window and looked toward the massive blast furnaces and the miles of steelwork structures on the south side of town. This was American history. So much had happened here: so many lives, families, innovations, and purposeful interactions. And now a special division of the corporation would come to an end on his watch as chairman and CEO: The doors were closing on Bethlehem Steel's Structural Products Division located in the heart of the city of Bethlehem. Or were they? When one door closed, somewhere else a window opened-didn't it? The current business structure would end, but he had assets to work with: the land, historical artifacts, town, buildings, goodwill he'd spent a good part of his life creating, and the people.