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2021 MCN Top 50 Service Centers

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MCN Editor Dan Markham The pandemic took a bite out of revenues for the continent’s largest service centers, but the rough times will undoubtedly be short-lived.

Click here to download the 2021 Top 50 Service centers.

For the service center sector, the pandemic year of 2020 was not as devastating as the Great Recession period. But its statistical effect on the Top 50 service center survey was still quite severe. 

Each year, Metal Center News compiles sales figures for most of North America’s largest service center companies, publishing its results in the MCN Top 50, now in its 19th year. This authoritative look at the largest service center companies provides a strong indication of the year that was in terms of revenue, employment levels and stocking locations. 

In 2020, the Top 50 service centers saw a 20.9 percent sales decline compared with the prior year. That fell short of the 36 percent year-over-year fall experienced in 2009. The $45.6 million in total sales also represented the lowest figure since the recession. 

The past year actually marked the second straight year of decline, following the more modest 6.5 percent decline in last year’s listing. In 2019, the Top 50 reported a record $61 billion in sales. 

Virtually no one was immune. Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co., the largest company in the distribution sector for the 14th straight year, saw its industry-leading sales figure drop from $10.9 billion to $8.8 billion in 2020.  

Following Reliance in the Top 10 was perennial runner-up Ryerson. The Chicago-based service center company reported net sales of $3.5 billion last year. 

thyssenkrupp Materials NA, Southfield, Mich., held steady at No. 3 with $2.6 billion in revenue last year. Kloeckner Metals was fourth with $2.43 billion in revenue in 2020, while Toyota Tsusho America, Georgetown, Ky., moved into the Top 5 with 2020 revenue of $2.16 billion. 

Rounding  out the Top 10 were Russel Metals at $2 billion, Jackson, Mich.-based Alro Steel and O’Neal Industries, Birmingham, Ala., at $1.9 billion, Steel Technologies, Louisville, Ky., at $1.86 billion and Columbus Ohio’s Worthington Industries at $1.7 billion. 

The decline last year is slightly overstated, as Top 10 fixture Samuel, Son & Co., Oakville, Ontario, was a non-respondent this year. Samuel had $2.8 billion in revenue in 2019. 
Liberty Steel Products, North Jackson, Ohio, was also a non-respondent this year. On the other hand, Esmark Steel is back in the Top 50 after a year as a non-respondent. 

Taking all of this into account, a more apples-to-apples comparison from last year to this year would reflect a decline in sales closer to 16 percent, which would still be the biggest decline in a decade. 

Only five companies experienced year-over-year sales gains in 2020, led by No. 11 Triple-S Steel Holdings, which jumped from $1.15 billion to $1.4 billion in revenues boosted by a late-2020 acquisition of Bushwick Metal. No. 21 Eastern Metal Supply, No. 30 Ratner Steel, No. 35 Adelphia Metals and No. 41 O’Brien Industries also bucked the trend. 

Additionally, No. 27 Eaton Steel Bar experienced no change in sales from year to year.  

This year’s listing included entered one first-time entrant. Concrete Reinforcing Products, Sunrise, Fla., checked in at a tie for 35th with Adelphia Metals. Also joining the list after not making it a year ago was No. 48 Century Metals and Supplies, Miami, Fla., which reported 2020 revenues of $85 million. 

The sales declines were felt throughout the entire list. A year ago, the 50th position was held by Benjamin Steel, with sales of $100 million. This year, the final six slots were taken by companies with less than $100 million in revenues.

Of course, the sharp decline in sales this year will berversed in a big way in next year’s Top 50. Not every company provides projected revenues for 2021, including the publicly traded companies and most others in the Top 10. But based on the companies that do provide such information, next year’s Top 50 will likely witness one of the biggest year-over-year gains in the history of MCN’s annual listing. 

In this year’s survey, 34 companies projected 2021 sales figures. Those companies reported 2020 revenues of just more than $16 million. In 2021, thanks to improved demand and staggering metals price increases, those companies anticipate sales figures of close to $25 billion, a 55 percent increase. If those projects held true for the entire industry, it would represent the largest year-over-year gain since MCN began compiling sales figures, beating the 40 percent increase the industry enjoyed in the memorable year of 2004.

The Top 50 has also been showing remarkable stability in recent years. For the second straight year, there were no consolidating events in the industry. In fact, during the pandemic, even the industry’s serial acquirers hunkered down, with few deals consummated in 2020. The result is very little movement within the Top 50. The biggest gainer was Eastern Metal Supply, moving up eight spots from No. 29 a year ago.

Looking at other results of this year’s survey, the Top 50 employed more than 53,400 people, a significant decline from the 61,000 a year ago. A large chunk of that is the exclusion of Samuel from the list, as the Oakville, Ontario-based company was the second-largest employer last year with 5,500 employees. Reliance’s decline from 15,300 employees to 13,000 in 2020 was also a major contributor.

Altogether, 18 companies in both lists reported smaller staffs in 2020, totaling 3,624 fewer jobs. On the other hand, a similar number of companies said they had brought on personnel, though the expanding enterprises only added 1,448 to the payroll. 

Interestingly, while employee count fell, the number of facilities operated by the Top 50 increased on a same-company basis. The companies included in both this year’s and last year’s Top 50 added 60 stocking locations. ? 

To rank the Top 50, Metal Center News conducted an email survey in July and August of the magazine’s largest subscribers. When available, secondary sources were used to confirm information. In most cases, figures from privately held companies are presented without independent verification. Companies are ranked based on total revenues from sales, processing and distribution during their last completed fiscal year, which for most was calendar year 2019.

Reliance Steel & Aluminum is not just the largest service center company in sales, but also employs more people than any other company in the industry.

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