Bethlehem Steel quit making steel in 1995 in its Pennsylvania hometown. By 1998, it had shut down its coke furnaces and sold its last two steel-related businesses at the 1,800-acre Lehigh Valley complex. Seven hundred executives were left to dismantle and dispose of the silent mills and cold furnaces, while former employees and city businesses coped with the reality of unemployment and bankruptcy.
Curtis H. (Hank) Barnette, chairman and CEO, knows that it would be easy to just walk away from the company he'd shepherded, but also that walking away wouldn't be in keeping with Bethlehem Steel's four-point mission: to increase shareholder value, serve customers, establish partnerships among employees, and be a good citizen. Barnette has assets to work with: the land, historical artifacts, town, buildings, goodwill he'd spent a large part of his life creating, and the people.
This case chronicles the story of Barnette and his team as they work to lay Bethlehem Steel to rest and to leave the land it had occupied better off.