SOUTH GATE : Foundry to Close; 67 Will Lose Jobs

Sixty-seven jobs will vanish at month’s end when the Universal Cast Iron Manufacturing Co., a fixture in the Southeast industrial landscape since 1946, closes down, company officials said last week.

The plant, which produces cast-iron plumbing fittings and couplings, has distributed and sold its products under the brand name UNIVCO.

Located on 7.4 acres near the Los Angeles River, Universal’s plant is part of an estate controlled by the family of Albert Levinson, who died in 1992. The company has been losing money since 1990, said Ray Javier, Universal’s chief financial officer.

“It’s very tough nowadays to run a foundry,” said Javier, “and even tougher to sell one.” The nation has only seven cast-iron foundries remaining, he said.


Levinson’s family does not want to operate the business any longer, said City Manager Todd Argow, who has been involved in the effort to save Universal. The loss in city tax revenue will be negligible, Argow said, since Universal was not a retail outlet.

The family tentatively agreed last September to sell Universal to Jones Plumbing Systems of Birmingham, Ala., according to a statement released by Douglas Bess, Jones’ chief financial officer. The agreement would have allowed Jones to purchase all of Universal’s property and tangible assets. The purchase agreement was terminated in November, Jones spokeswoman Kim Nolan said. Nolan declined to say why Jones changed its plans.

Javier said there are no plans to convert Universal’s facilities into other operations.