From The Editor

New Association Combines Distributors, Processors Groups

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MCN Editor Dan Markham The FMA Annual Meeting returns this month, with the 2024 event slated for Feb. 27-29 in Clearwater, Fla. 

The meeting will have its typical offerings of talks from metals executives and economists, equipment manufacturers pitching their wares and warm weather off-site events, ideal for us northern folk cooped up for the past few months.

But the meeting will also offer the coming out party, in a way, of a new organization serving the metals space. The Association of Metals Processors and Distributors is a consolidation of two venerable groups under the expansive FMA umbrella.

The AMPD was formed last May through the merger of the Association of Steel Distributors and FMA’s Outside Processors Council. The ASD had been welcomed under the FMA banner several years earlier. 

This fall, leadership of the new organization was assumed by Joe Cress of Worthington Steel, itself undergoing a transformation as it split from the former Worthington Industries. 

Cress, Worthington Steel’s East Regional sales manager, says the move to form a single organization for processors and distributors was undertaken to inject new life into the initiatives the groups has been working on. “We wanted to rejuvenate both those teams and have a new vision moving into 2024.”

The FMA Annual Meeting will serve as the group’s introduction to the manufacturing community, starting with the event that has long been the biggest night of the year for the ASD. On the opening night of the conference, the AMPD will hand out the Steel Executive of the Year honor, the oldest award in the industry. It will be presented at an industry banquet where the Fabricator’s Industry Award will also be bestowed. This year’s recipient has been tasked with overseeing one half of the Worthington split, Worthington Steel President Geoff Gilmore.  

Beyond the meeting, the AMPD is looking at other opportunities for members and future members, which currently includes a few golf outings, among other programs.

“The annual conference will be the crown jewel event, but we’re looking at other off-site opportunities that make sense regionally. You don’t want to inundate folks with things that aren’t valuable, but if there are opportunities to meet maybe one or two others times a year, we could do that,” Cress says. “We want events that are reasonably priced and logistically feasible. 

The response to the group’s formation has been positive, says Cress, who took the reins from Grand Steel’s Mike Barnett. That could have been tricky, given the histories of the two groups.

“We’re still putting together our messaging and mission and trying to rejuvenate what’s existing and understanding how we’re going to meld the old and new together. We’re still working through that transition,” he says. “But the energy has been great and hopefully we can spark participation in places we haven’t in the past.”