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The Year in Review

No Shocks Here

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The past year in the metals supply chain was marked by a continued return to more balanced pricing, supply/demand conditions. 

The past year marked the closest the metals industry has come to normal since the pandemic. It was a year marked by a pricing environment closer to traditional, one not beset by devastating supply shortages, either of metal or components, and devoid of any major shocks to the system. 

It was also a return to more historic levels of profitability after some record-setting years. 

The year began on a cautious note, with worries about a recession hanging over some participants. While conditions were a little slower than they had been in the most recent boom years, the metals industry seemed to muddle through 2023 without major incident. 

Before we fully embrace the new year ahead of us, let’s look back at some of the highlights of the year that was in the metals distribution space. 

First Quarter
McNichols Co. expanded its footprint in the Mile High City by relocating its Metals Service Center to a new address in Aurora. 

Friedman Industries began shipping material to customers from its newly constructed coil processing facility in Sinton, Texas. The facility is a 70,000-square-foot building located on 26.6 acres leased from Steel Dynamics at the steelmaker’s flat-rolled steel campus. 

The Lawton Standard Co. added American Iron & Alloys LLC, Waukesha, Wis., as part of its expansion strategy. AIA processes and distributes continuous cast iron, bronze bar, tubing and other metal components. 

All Metals Industries acquired Gerber Metal Supply, a New Jersey-based distribution company. Founded in 1963, Gerber is a regional distributor of carbon sheet steel products, strips, blanks and edge-processed material.  

Commercial Metals Company selected Berkeley County, W.Va., as the site of its fourth micro mill. The project, budgeted to cost approximately $450 million, is expected to have an annual capacity of 500,000 tons. 

South Korea’s Lotte Aluminium Materials USA LLC announced plans for a new production plant for aluminum cathode foils in Elizabethtown, Ky. The group’s target is to produce 36,000 tons of cathode foils annually to meet the sharp increase in demand. 

Cleveland’s Olympic Steel Inc.,  a leading national metals service center, acquired all outstanding shares of Metal-Fab Inc.  Metal-Fab was founded in 1958 and operates from two warehousing and fabrication facilities in Wichita, Kan. 
 
Klöckner & Co. acquired National Material of Mexico, a leading independent service center and materials supplier serving automotive and industrial end markets in North America with 10 facilities throughout Mexico. The transaction was made through the company’s U.S. subsidiary, Kloeckner Metals Corporation.

California Steel Industries Inc. announced plans to build a continuous galvanizing line at its mill in Fontana, Calif. The new galvanizing line will serve construction end markets in the Western United States and is expected to have an annual capacity of 400,000 tons. 

With the acquisition of Hummock Industries, Wieland acquired Heyco Metals, a leader in light and medium gauge copper, copper alloy and stainless steel strip processing, and National Bronze, a manufacturer and distributor of bronze-based bearing products.

 U.S. Steel commissioned its first pig iron at its Gary Works facility. The steelmaker produced more than 1,000 tons of pig iron by mid-month, ahead of the company’s schedule. 

Imperial Manufacturing Group of Richibucto, New Brunswick, Canada, owner of Pointe-Claire Steel, purchased Norbel Metal Service Inc. Norbel operates three slitters, four cut-to-length lines and 12 shears from a facility in Etobicoke, Ontario. 

Tenaris, S.A. confirmed Benteler Steel & Tube Manufacturing Corp. walked away from Tenaris’s planned $460 million takeover of Benteler’s steel and tube manufacturing facility in Shreveport, La. The abandonment came after the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division raised competition concerns about the deal.

Alro Steel opened a new facility in the Philadelphia area, located at 17 Progress Drive, Morrisville, Pa. The 149,000-square-foot location was custom built to include extra storage space to stock additional matertial,  including large structural shapes, bar products, sheet and plate and the ability to warehouse special inventory programs. 

North American Stainless launched a $244-million-expansion at its facility in Ghent, Ky. The expansion adds 200,000 tons of capacity, representing 20 percent of its existing production. 

MSS Steel Tubes USA announced plans to invest $6 million to locate its first U.S. production facility in Memphis, Tenn. The location will better position MSS Steel Tubes to serve its U.S. customer base of solar panel manufacturers. 

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. and the United Steelworkers partnered to file antidumping and countervailing duty petitions against eight countries, alleging unfairly traded tin and chromium coated sheet steel products. The petitions seek the imposition of antidumping duties on U.S. imports of tin mill products from Canada, China, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Kingdom.  

The board of directors of the Steel Manufacturers Association elected Ty Garrison of Commercial Metals Company as chairman.

Second Quarter
TW Metals, a full-line specialty metals distributor, broke ground on an addition for a new material handling system at its Carol Stream, Ill., facility. The system is designed and will be built by Swiss-based warehouse logistics firm Fehr Inc. 

Ryerson Holding Corporation, Chicago, acquired BLP Holdings, Houston. BLP is comprised of three divisions: Absolute Metal Products, Metal Cutting Specialists and Houston Water Jet. 

Flack Global Metals reached an agreement with OmniMax International Inc. to acquire Fabral, a premier supplier of metal building envelope solutions. Lancaster, Pa.-based Fabral is an industry leader in manufacturing metal roofing and wall systems for a range of end markets.

Ternium announced plans to build a new upstream production facility in North America. The facility will support the company’s new hot-rolling mill, which began operations in 2021, plus a previously announced downstream project in Mexico. 

Sierra Aluminum, a division of Samuel, Son & Co., broke ground on a new 350,000-square-foot greenfield facility in Mexicali, Mexico.  Located three hours from Sierra Aluminum’s operations in California, the new facility in Mexicali will increase its ability to serve and meet the needs of its growing customer base while providing capacity for future growth. 

Nucor’s board of directors approved an additional $400 million to complete construction of the company’s new steel mill in West Virginia. The total outlay for the three-million-ton mill was upped to $3.1 billion. 

Steel Dynamics’ new venture, Aluminum Dynamics, broke ground on its $2.5 billion aluminum manufacturing plant in Lowndes County, Mississippi. The facility is the first nonferrous project for the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based steel minimill. 

On the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration imposed new economic restrictions on the country, including a 200 percent tariff on aluminum. 

Triple-S Steel Holdings Inc., through its affiliates, Arbor Metals Inc. and Tube Supply LP, acquired the assets of Marco Steel and Aluminum Inc. Marco Steel has operations  in Midland and Lubbock in Texas and Albuquerque, N.M. 

Hascall Steel Company, a leading steel service center in the Midwest, acquired a new location in Chicago. The new location came with a full team of experienced industry professionals and was stocked to service current and new customers in the Chicago market and beyond.

Erickson Metals Colorado relocated its operation in the Denver area to a facility in Aurora, Colo. The new facility offers 60,000 square feet of warehouse space and provides ample space to stock a wider variety of aluminum products at a higher volume. 

Borusan Mannesmann expanded its holdings in the United States with the acquisition of 100 percent of Berg Pipe for $162 million. Berg is a leading manufacturer of large-diameter line pipe. 

Alcoa Corp., Pittsburgh, announced plans to formally close its Intalco aluminum smelter in Washington State. The smelter had been fully idle since 2020. 

FABTECH announced plans to break from its normal rotation of U.S. cities next year, locating the 2024 event in Orlando, Fla. The event will take place from Oct. 15-17 at the Orange County Convention Center, a shift from the event originally scheduled for Las Vegas. 

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co., Scottsdale, Ariz., made its first acquisition of 2023, purchasing the equity interests of Southern Steel Supply. Southern serves customers throughout Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri. 

Peter Matt was appointed president of Commercial Metals Co., Irving, Texas. He succeeded Barbara R. Smith, who remains chairman and CEO of the steelmaker. 

Flack Global Metals opened its first physical metals service center on the campus of North Shore Steel, located near the Port of Houston. The 60,000-square-foot facility complements FGM’s geography-agnostic business model.

Lapham-Hickey Steel Corp. acquired Burr Ridge, Ill.-based Arrowhead Steel Company. Founded in 1987 by Arnold Koldenhoven, Arrowhead Steel is a distributor of flat-rolled steel products.

TRUMPF Inc. began work on expanding its local manufacturing and sheet metal assembly of fabricating machine tools in Farmington, Conn. The North American subsidiary of the high-tech TRUMPF Group will add 55,800 square feet to its production building for the manufacture of laser cutting, bending and welding machinery. 

Arconic Corp., Pittsburgh, entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management Inc. The deal was an all-cash transaction that valued the company at $5.2 billion.

Third Quarter
Western Canadian service center company Varsteel Ltd. expanded to the other side of the country with the acquisition of Atlantic Tube & Steel Inc., Mississauga, Ontario. Founded in 1977, Atlantic Tube & Steel Inc. is a family-owned tube manufacturing and metal processing business.  

American Metals Supply Co., Springfield, Ill., was acquired by MacArthur Company. AMS is a wholesale distributor of sheet and coil steel, prefabricated duct and fittings and a complete line of HVAC products.  

Sabel Steel expanded its operations into Texas with the acquisition of Sampson Steel. The acquisition becomes the ninth service center location for Montgomery, Ala.-based Sabel Steel.

Nucor Corp., Charlotte, N.C., announced plans to cease production at Nucor Steel Longview as part of a reorganization of its plate group. Acquired by Nucor in 2016, the 100,000-ton capacity mill in Texas produces heavy steel plate.

Forza Steel announced plans to invest $60 million to build a new manufacturing facility at the Port of Brownsville in Texas. The Mexican company, which specializes in the manufacture of carbon steel pipe, planned to install equipment in July to begin rolling mill operations.

Hyundai Motor Group and LG Energy Solutions announced plans to build an EV battery cell manufacturing operation in the U.S. The two South Korean companies will develop the joint venture in Bryan County, Ga. 

Wieland acquired Farmers Copper Ltd., a leading copper, brass and bronze alloys supplier in North America. Founded in 1980, the company has a strong and long-standing customer base across aerospace, marine, defense, oil and gas, and electrical market segments. 

Metal Supermarkets expanded its network of retail-based metal suppliers with a new facility in Las Vegas. Courtney and Yolanda Neville operate the new location.

Leeco Steel, North America’s largest supplier of steel plate, acquired Alvarado, Texas-based Titan Steel, a steel plate processor specializing in plasma and oxy-fuel cutting and machining. This was Leeco Steel’s first acquisition and will expand the company’s processing capabilities.

The Copper Development Association challenged letters sent by the U.S. Geological Survey to congressmen and senators denying a bipartisan request to immediately add copper to the official Critical Minerals List due to its dramatic supply risk. 

Mayville Engineering Company Inc., a value-added provider of design, prototyping and manufacturing solutions serving diverse end markets, acquired privately held Mid-States Aluminum Corp. The purchase price was $96 million. 

Majestic Steel Founder Dennis H. Leebow passed away at the age of 72. Founded in 1979 as a flat-rolled steel distributor, Majestic has grown into one of the largest service center companies in North America. 

Alro Steel acquired Heimansohn Steel, Clarksville, Tenn. Heimansohn is a metals service center with processing services that include metal cutting, shearing, drilling, punching and bending. 

Norfolk Iron & Metal, one of the nation’s largest family-owned networks of steel service centers, announced plans to unify all company brands.  Effective Jan. 1, all of the company’s facilities were rebranded to Norfolk Iron & Metal.

Hascall Steel Founder Wayne Charles Hascall passed away at the age of 88. In 1971, he founded flat-rolled specialist Hascall Steel Company in Western Michigan, which remains a family business.    
Canadian port workers on the West Coast began a strike on July 1, a labor action that threatened manufacturing supply chains in Canada and elsewhere in North America.

Hybar, a newly formed company, raised $700 million of debt and equity financing to build, start up and operate a technologically advanced, environmentally sustainable scrap metal recycling steel rebar mill. Hybar plans to produce 630,000 tons of rebar annually.

U.S. Steel set off a frenzy in the metals world with the announcement it was considering options for the company, including a sale of assets. Cleveland-Cliffs was among the first companies to announce its interest in the steelmaker. 

National Tube Supply, University Park, Ill., acquired Commercial Fluid Power, with locations in North Canton and Dover, Ohio, as well as Rome, Ga. Commercial Fluid Power is a leader within the honing and machining industry and provides DOM tubing, chrome bar and turnkey solutions for the fluid power industry.  

Wieland acquired Small Tube Products, a producer of small-diameter and thin-wall specialty tubing made of copper, copper alloys and aluminum. Based in Duncanville, Pa., STP operates the largest and most diverse precision redraw tube mill in North America. 

South Korea’s Husteel announced plans to build an OCTG facility in the United States. The $122 million greenfield facility is planned for Splendora, Texas. 

Grupo Simec, a leading international producer of special bar quality steel, steel wire, rebar, and commercial and structural steel long products, announced plans to indefinitely idle steelmaking operations at its Republic Steel mills in Canton, Ohio, and Lackawanna, N.Y. During the idling, Republic Steel’s U.S. customers will be served via Grupo Simec’s steel mill in Tlaxcala, Mexico. 

Five trade associations representing the American steel industry urged the Treasury Department to ensure certain wind and solar components use steel made in the United States to qualify for the domestic content bonus tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Fourth Quarter
Owen Metals Group opened a new Paxton & Vierling finishing facility in Carter Lake, Iowa. The line combined 10 years of powder coating experience at the Northern Plains Finishing division in Casselton, N.D.

Mill Steel acquired a 90,000-square-foot facility in Mansfield, Ohio, to operate a new in-house processing location for stainless and aluminum flat-rolled products, as well as some carbon steel offerings. The expansion supports Mill Steel’s recent acquisition of Cleveland Metal Exchange. 

After months of threats, the United Autoworkers formally began a strike against the Detroit 3 automakers Friday, Sept. 15. The strike began at select plants operated by General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

Nucor broke ground on a new rebar micro mill in Lexington, N.C. The new facility is expected to produce 430,000 tons of rebar annually. 

The U.S. Commerce Department instituted new tariffs on tin and chromium-coated sheet steel products from China. Commerce levied antidumping duties of 122.52 percent on Chinese goods.

Olympic Steel, Cleveland, acquired Central Tube & Bar. The company, founded in 1996, serves large OEMS and fabricators across the Mid-South.

 Ryerson Holding Corporation acquired Norlen Incorporated, a full-service metal fabricator based in Schofield, Wis. Norlen provides stamping, machining, painting and additional value-added fabrication services to industries including agriculture, HVAC and defense.

Worthington Industries Inc. announced plans to expand its Tempel Steel facility in Apodaca, Mexico. Tempel will re-engineer the footprint of its existing production area and add operations to an adjacent 185,000 square-foot facility.  

Kloeckner Metals, a Roswell, Ga.-based subsidiary of Klöckner & Co, acquired Sol Components, a leader in end-to-end structural solar solutions for the commercial and utility solar sectors. This move solidifies Kloeckner’s commitment to advancing sustainability.

U.S. Steel Corp. opened its new non-grain oriented electrical steel line at its Big River Steel facility in Osceola, Ark. The new line is approximately 2,333 feet long with a 200,000-ton annual capacity.

David McCall was appointed the new international president of the United Steelworkers. He was chosen to complete the remainder of the term of Tom Conway, who passed away after four years of leading the labor union. 

Universal Stainless & Alloy Products Inc., named Christopher M. Zimmer the new president and CEO. He succeeded Dennis M. Oates, who became the newly established executive chairman.

Nucor Corp. announced plans to explore potential sites in the Pacific Northwest to build a new rebar micro mill with an annual capacity of 650,000 tons. The new mill will produce a full range of rebar sizes and have spooling capabilities. 

Four U.S.-based industrial manufacturing companies – Summit Steel & Manufacturing, Inc., Fairlawn Tool, Inc., Laser Specialties, Inc., and Summit Storage Solutions – formed Caldera Manufacturing Group, a new manufacturing entity.  

CMC dedicated its new micro mill in Mesa, Ariz. The mill has a capacity of 500,000 tons, including 150,000 tons of merchant products. 

The Aluminum Extruders Coalition, a group of U.S. aluminum extruders concerned about the rising threat of low-cost aluminum extrusion imports, filed a trade case against 15 countries. The United Steelworkers joined the petition.

Dennis Mullin, chairman of SPS Companies Inc., was named the 27th Metal Center News Service Center Executive of the Year. 

McNeilus Steel announced plans to invest $23.4 million to expand its presence in Central Tennessee. The company is locating a new operation in Morrison in Warren County. 

The board of directors of Worthington Industries Inc. approved the previously announced separation of its Steel Processing business, Worthington Steel Inc. Worthington Steel will be a leading steel processor and producer of electrical steel laminations and automotive lightweighting solutions.  

Brown Strauss Inc., Aurora, Colo., acquired Black Diamond Pipe & Tube, Inc. Black Diamond, Peotone, Ill., offers a deep inventory of tube and pipe products, along with value-added services including saw-cutting and blasting.

Boyd Metals, a subsidiary of Canada’s Russel Metals, announced plans to expand its facility at the Port of Little Rock, adding thousands of square feet to meet customer demand. The expansion will add 40,500 square feet to Boyd Metals’ Little Rock facility for processing equipment and increased inventory. 

Ryerson Holding Corporation acquired TSA Processing, a stainless steel and aluminum coil and sheet processor. TSA has six locations across the Midwest and Southern United States. 

Kloeckner Metals Corporation, Roswell, Ga., acquired Industrial Manufacturing Services. Headquartered in Lancaster, S.C., IMS provides fabrication, welding, assembly and just-in-time warehousing of light to medium size sub-assemblies to OEMs. 

James P. Bouchard, founder, chairman and CEO of Esmark Inc., retired from his role as CEO. He remains chairman of the board of directors of Esmark Inc.

Ranger Steel acquired the steel operation of Nance Steel Sales Inc., Detroit.  Nance, which began operations in 1971, is a distributor specializing in heavy plate.  

Alro Steel agreed to acquire Pottinger Steel, Racine, Wis. Pottinger Steel, founded in 1898 as a blacksmith shop and general steel supplier, evolved to become an established steel service center. 

The ability to strengthen and develop the U.S. manufacturing base could be hampered by the high costs of regulations, the National Association of Manufacturers reported based on a study it had commissioned.

[Caption:]
The plate market performed better than most other steel sectors in 2023.
(Photo courtesy Leeco Steel)