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Service Centers Rate the Mills

Regaining Favor

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By John E. Jacobson, Jacobson & Associates and Dan Markham, Editor-in-Chief

After the supply-challenged, price-spiked year of 2021, the steel production industry returned to a more normal environment, allowing mills to better meet their customers’ needs.

For North America’s steel producers, this is more like it. 

Most of the charts that follow are standards in the Jacobson Survey, including The Leaders, The Loyalty Index and Overall Customer Satisfaction. But one has changed from the 2021 installment. 

Chart 2 tracks the companies that were most improved in overall satisfaction from last year to this year. In 2021, that chart revealed the “declines in customer satisfaction.” Safe to say, the past year was an environment more conducive to meeting the varied demands of metals purchasers. 

Each year, John Jacobson & Associates surveys steel buyers, both end-use customers and service centers, on their opinions on the performance of their mill suppliers. 

Consumers are asked to weigh in on their mill providers on matters such as quality, service, price, on-time delivery, inside sales, outside sales and e-commerce. For two-plus decades, those results are presented in the pages of Metal Center News

As usual, the lists are a mix of repeat performers and changes at the top. Four of this year’s leaders in overall satisfaction were also atop the 2021 list: North Star BlueScope among sheet producers, EVRAZ Portland in plate, Nucor Berkeley in beams and Searing Industries in tube. 

They were joined by two new entries, CMC Steel Texas among bar/structural makers and Nucor Memphis in SBQ. 

When the polling was limited to just service centers, Nucor Longview was tops among plate performers, while the other leaders stayed atop the charts. North Star BlueScope, Nucor Memphis and Nucor Berkeley were all ranked first by both service centers and end-use customers, while EVRAZ Portland (plate), Nucor Jackson (bar/structural) and CMC Atlas Tube (tube) finished first in their categories with end-users. 

Returning to the Most Improved List, only one of the overall top finishers was also at the top there: Nucor Memphis. 

Others showing major improvement in 2022 were ArcelorMittal/Nippon Steel Calvert among sheet producers, Gerdau Cambridge in bar/structural, Algoma in plate, Gerdau Midlothian among beam makers and EXLTUBE among tube producers. 

Finally, there’s customer loyalty, among those traits most prized by mill producers. SDI Heartland topped the competitive list of sheet mills, ahead of United States Steel’s Mon Valley Works operation and North Star BlueScope. 

The other leading loyalty leaders were Gerdau Wilton in bar, Nucor Hertford in plate, Nucor Berkeley in beam, Nucor Nebraska in the SBQ sector and Wheatland Tube among tube producers. 

Comments from their customers reflected the overall improvement in satisfaction levels this year: 
“North Star BlueScope has outstanding products. I don’t think they are capable of making bad steel there. I can’t say enough good things about NSB’s product quality,” one sheet buyer said. 

“Our major supplier is Nucor Memphis – they are best in class communication and service,” responded a SBQ purchaser. 

And one tube purchaser added this. “Searing Industries is awesome – they have been staying competitive and checking all the boxes for us perfectly.”

Customers are in a happier place in 2022 versus the challenging market environment of 2021. 

Click here to download charts.

John E. Jacobson is president of Jacobson & Associates, Greensboro, N.C. 
The Jacobson Survey has been measuring steel customer satisfaction for the past 30 years. 
Mr. Jacobson may be reached at (847) 735-7250 or via e-mail at jej@jacobsonsteel.com.