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The Top 50 service center companies in North America reported sales of $84.9 billion in the most recent fiscal year. That was a jump of more than $7 billion from the prior listing, itself $16 billion more than the previous high.
The growth started right at the top. For the 16th consecutive year, Reliance Steel & Aluminum outpaced the rest of the industry, a gap that only seems to widen every year. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based enterprise reported net sales of $17 billion in 2022, an increase from its previous record of $14.1 billion set just one year earlier.
Reliance is the largest company in the distribution space in every way. It has 315 stocking locations, almost 200 locations more than the runner-up. It employs more than 14,000 workers, more than double the next largest employer. And its square footage totals 36 million, vastly larger than any other distributor.
But Reliance is not alone in growing in 2022. The overall industry revenue expansion in the past two years has been truly extraordinary. Even tossing out the historical aberration of the pandemic year of 2020, revenues from the Top 50 service centers are up 47 percent since 2019.
Each year, Metal Center News invites the continent’s largest service center companies to submit sales data from the previous year, to be compiled in the September issue. Now in its 21st year, the MCN Top 50 is the most authoritative listing of the size of the multibillion-dollar metals distribution space.
For more than two-thirds of the listing’s existence, one name has stood at the top. Reliance has been leading the way since 2008 when it supplanted Ryerson as North America’s largest metals distribution company. Chicago-based Ryerson has also maintained its runner-up status throughout that time period and this year was no exception. Ryerson reported 2022 net sales of $6.3 billion, also a record.
Kloeckner Metals Corporation, Roswell, Ga., held down the No. 3 spot with 2022 sales of $4.6 billion. The biggest mover in the Top 10 was Worthington Industries. The Columbus, Ohio-based company reported 2022 net sales of $4.1 billion, dropping Toronto-based Russel Metals one spot to fifth with 2022 sales of $3.9 billion.
Rounding out the Top 10 this year were Steel Technologies, Louisville, Ky. in sixth; Georgetown, Ky.-based Toyota Tsusho America in seventh; O’Neal Industries Inc, Birmingham, Ala., eighth; Alro Steel, Jackson, Mich., ninth; and Samuel, Son & Company Ltd., Oakville, Ontario, 10th.
One area of the countdown that lost ground in 2022 was the billion dollar club, with 21 companies cracking 10 figures last year. Dodge Center, Minn.-based McNeilus Steel fell just short with $989.6 million in revenue last year.
A year earlier, the club counted 23 members. Alas, two billion-dollar enterprises did not respond to this year’s survey. thyssenkrupp Materials NA, last year’s sixth-largest company with 2021 revenues of $2.6 billion, and No. 15 Coilplus, a $1.5 billion service center, were the most notable non-respondents. Their absences somewhat hide the industry gains in 2022, as their inclusion would have likely pushed the difference in sales between the two years above $10 billion.
At the other end of the listing, Century Metals & Supplies completed the Top 50 with 2022 revenues of $130.2 million. The final spot in the previous year’s listing had revenues of $140 million.
Century was one of two companies to crack the Top 50 for the first time. The other was a historic new entry: Galvaprime S.A. DE C.V. The carbon flat-rolled specialist from Santa Catarina in Nuevo Leon becomes the first Mexican-based company to reach the Top 50, truly marking the listing a celebration of the North American metals distribution industry.
Exploring the list in a little more detail, the biggest gain this year came from A.M. Castle & Co., reversing recent history when the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company shed some operations and slid down the Top 50. Castle jumped six places to 30th this year as sales ballooned from $442.9 million in 2021 to $585.4 million last year.
An even bigger jump was registered by a company that fell just short of the Top 50 the prior year. Trident Steel Corp., St. Louis, failed to make the listing based on 2021 sales, but bounced all the way up to 40th this year with $255 million in revenue.
Only two companies, flat-rolled distributors Kenwal and Esmark, saw revenues decline from 2021 to 2022. NIM Group also held flat from the prior year with $1.3 billion in sales.
Alas, the heady days can’t last forever. Based on projected revenues from those companies willing to share that data, most companies are anticipating a revenue decline next year. The two largest companies forecasting growth, Target Steel and Wieland Metal Services, have both been in acquisition mode over the recent past.
Altogether, 24 companies projected sales declines, totaling close to $3 billion. Only eight companies forecast an increae in sales in 2022 compared with last year, though that amounted to only an additional $200 million or so in revenue. As is typical, 17 companies, including all of the publicly traded operations, did not offer sales projections for the year to come.
Employment by the Top 50 companies topped 63,500 over the past year, a slight dip from the prior-year listing. Likewise, stocking locations fell by 10 to 1,323. Both of those declines could be attributable to the absence of three companies from this year’s list, thyssenkrupp Materials NA, Coilplus and Material Sciences Corp., which was 34th in the 2022 listing, but was also a non-respondent.[Caption:]
Reliance Steel & Aluminum has been atop the MCN Top 50 listing for the past 16 years. (Photo courtesy Reliance Steel & Aluminum).