From The Editor

End of Year Odds and Ends

By on
MCN Editor Dan Markham With this issue, we bring to close another year covering the metals distribution industry. We hope it was a profitable one for all of you, with even better results in the year to come. 

The December issue is always a little different, given the presence of a big face on the cover. This year’s Metal Center News Executive of the Year is Rick Marabito, CEO of Olympic Steel. The opportunity to sit down with a successful executive is a privilege for the editors of this magazine, getting to go more in-depth than the normal schedule allows. This year was no exception, and I thank Rick and his team at Olympic for pulling back the curtain on this ever-changing operation. I always learn a lot in the process. 

At the very back of the book, you will see something new to the pages of MCN. This month we debut the presentation of data from the North American Steel Alliance, the only buying co-operative serving the metals distribution space. 

For several years, NASA has been polling its members for information on a variety of demand and inventory insights, and we’re presenting just a snippet of that material in an easily digestible form. We’ll be running the data once a quarter, rotating through the various geographies in NASA’s coast-to-coast membership. As noted, this is just a  small piece of what the co-op is providing its members regularly. 

Eagle-eyed readers may also notice a new name attached to the masthead or on a byline later in the issue. Christina Hazelwood has joined the staff at Metal Center News as our new associate editor. She has a long background in journalism and writing, and should be a fine asset. She spent one of her first weeks patrolling the floor at last month’s FABTECH event in Atlanta, which is a nice crash course in the world of processing, fabrication and other metalworking tasks. 

Please feel free to reach out to her at with news or tips. 

Though the service center space is a broad one, with niches aplenty, this month’s Business Topics column looks at an issue that concerns all of you, the ongoing talent chasm. The most troubling aspect of the labor shortage noted by ThinkWhy’s experts is just how entrenched the problem is, and will remain, even if the industrial economy may be through the worst of it. Working against all employers is the simple issue of demographics, as the largest age cohort is now sprinting out of the workforce after years of hanging on. 

Other than comprehensive immigration reform (which seems impossible in the D.C. quagmire), there aren’t a lot of levers to pull to expand the American labor force. A pandemic-related baby boom is nice, but if you thought lead times for metal were long last year, the 18-year wait before that fertility bonanza pays off will be positively cruciating.