J.D. Vance rally highlights 2nd-generation manufacturer: Meet Middletown Tube Works

When Middletown native J.D. Vance appears tonight at Middletown Tube Works where he's expected to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate,  tubes and coils of steel will serve as a backdrop. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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When Middletown native J.D. Vance appears tonight at Middletown Tube Works where he's expected to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate, tubes and coils of steel will serve as a backdrop. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The owner of Middletown Tube Works Inc. described the rise in material costs, a drop in product demand and the need for employees “the perfect storm.”

But Angela Phillips, daughter of the late owner, said the company is “holding our own” despite the hardships created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Middletown native J.D. Vance is expected to announce his run for the U.S. Senate during an event tonight at Middletown Tube Works, 2201 Trine St.

In 2016, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, met with local female business leaders during a roundtable discussion at the plant, saying her goal was “an opportunity for me to come down here and do a little less talking and a lot more listening.”

ExplorePhotos: Ivanka Trump visited Middletown in 2016

Phillips said after meeting Vance several months ago and talking about the importance of the manufacturing industry, he called and asked if he could hold his event at her company.

“He’s a Middletown homeboy,” Phillips said.

She said the event will be held in a steel warehouse that due to the lack of supplies is rather empty. She said the plant has been cleaned and she compared it to having family and friends over to your house.

Catherine Martin, vice president of communications, said at many as 300 people may attend the event. On Wednesday, workers were moving tubes and steel coils to be used as a backdrop to the stage.

Middletown Tube Works was purchased from Armco Steel (now Cleveland-Cliffs) in 1993 by the late Ralph Phillips. After purchasing the company, he and his team immediately streamlined the company to provide highly formable coated and non-coated welded steel tube for industries including HVAC, appliance and others, according to the company’s website.

In 2009, following the passing of Phillips, his daughter became owner of all voting stock and moved up from vice president to take over managing the operations.