It’s a wild world

By Lauren Duensing

March 2012 - Optimism is building in the metals industry. In 2009, the forecast was bleak. The automotive and construction industries were floundering terribly and demand was extremely low. Moving on to 2010, the outlook began to improve. Companies were implementing strategies to deal with the economic conditions and making tough decisions so they would emerge from the recession with stronger, more efficient operations.

Last year, Modern Metals published the annual Editorial Advisory Board Roundtable feature in the May issue, and board members were feeling optimistic about both the state of the economy and their own right-sized, streamlined businesses. However, that feeling reached a plateau in the third and fourth quarters as demand began to stall. For 2012, board members are hoping the year’s slow upward trend is here to stay for the full 12 months.

“The 2012 outlook for the North American steel industry is for moderate growth with the market experiencing a 3 percent increase in apparent steel demand, according to the AISI,” says William C. Steers Jr., general manager, communications and corporate responsibility, ArcelorMittal Americas. “In the United States, demand is strong and is supported by energy and auto demand.”

Although year-over-year business seems to be improving, board members are concerned about global and political stability, which could have a huge effect on both long-term and short-term plans.

“The economy has been a disappointment to almost everyone you talk to,” says Richard McLaughlin, director, Hatch Beddows, Pittsburgh. He notes there are many unknown factors that might stall robust growth, including the outcome of the 2012 U.S. presidential election. “That will have an important effect on the economy itself because of people’s expectations and the potential impact on consumer confidence. There is almost a polar opposite point of view between the parties about what government should and shouldn’t be doing.”

Many in the industry are hoping for a different direction in future government polices, from business to infrastructure and everything in between. Less-restrictive policies mean companies will be more willing to start new projects, fund expansions or hire new employees.

“There has been much talk about reversing the decline of American manufacturing by both political parties in Washington, with precious little action,” Steers says. “We need new tax policies to encourage investment, stronger Buy America provisions to ensure that American tax dollars support American jobs, workforce training programs to prepare the next generation for technically demanding manufacturing positions and programs on industrial energy efficiency to help American businesses become more efficient.”

Being at the helm in business today is more complicated because of the global economy and the speed of information. Ultimately, optimism only will take the industry so far. It needs to be backed up by companies that are confident in the economy’s direction, both locally and globally, and confident that the drivers of demand will continue to be strong.

“We are faced with a globally competitive market, and we must continually improve to meet these changing dynamics,” says Dan DiMicco, chairman, president and CEO, Nucor Corp., Charlotte, N.C. “But that in itself is not new. Change is an ongoing historical reality and always will be. The ability to adapt yet stay strong in the fundamentals is more important than ever. Whenever we forget the fundamentals, we get disastrous results.”

To read more of the comments from Modern Metals’ editorial advisory board, turn to this month’s cover story on page 18. MM

Interested in purchasing reprints of this article? Click here

Leave your comments

  • No comments found

mm sm ed cal banner330px 2016

MM Cover 10 15 digital

vert-current-linewhiteOctober 2015

2016 End User Outlook

Although low pricing on metal products across the globe once inspired companies to stock up, there’s little appetite for risk peering into 2016.


Instagram - @ModernMetalsMag

MIDWEST register deadline3

Modern Metals on Twitter


Industry Partners


PNC BankDoALL Sawing ProductsStraub Metal International


Executive Search Services

Sawing Technology

Stainless Steel

Aluminum USA 2015 Leadership Search Group Advanced Machine & Engineering Rolled Alloys
Kaiser Aluminum

Financial Services

Behringer Saws, Inc. Scan Tube/Nebetco Stainless
Sapa Extrusions North America BMO Harris Bank Cosen International, Inc. Stainless Sales Corporation
Gerdau Special Steel North America

Industrial Contracting Solutions


Stainless Steel Service Center

CNC Cutting (Plasma, Waterjet, Laser, Router)

Delta Industrial HE&M Saw Comprinox
Multicam Inc.

Laser Technology


Stainless, Nickel, Aluminum, Pipe, Tube & Bar

Coated Coil

Amada America, Inc. Kasto Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys, L.P.
Centria Coating Services Mazak Optonics Corp. KMT Saw


Coil Coatings

Machining Centers

Lenox Alliance Steel LLC
Chemcoaters Handtmann CNC Metlsaw Systems Central Steel Service, Inc.

Coil Processing

Material Handling

Sawblade.com Pacesetter Steel Service, Inc.
Applefelt Combilift USA Scotchman Industries, Inc. Parker Steel Co.
Bradbury Group Samuel Strapping Systems Specialty Saw Inc. SSAB
Braner USA Steel Storage Systems Inc.

Service Centers

Steel Dynamics, Inc.
Butech Bliss Walker Magnetics North American Steel Alliance

Thickness Gauges


Milling Machinery

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. Advanced Gauging Technologies
Formtek Maine Amada Machine Tools America, Inc. United Performance Metals


Machine Concepts

Perforated & Expanded Metal


Carlson Tool & Manufacturing Corp.
Red Bud Industries McNichols Co. Compusource Corporation

Tube & Pipe

Copper & Brass


Enmark Systems, Inc. Independence Tube Corp.
Christy Metals Inc. Allor Manufacturing Inc.


Specialty Pipe & Tube, Inc.
Concast Metal Products Churchill Steel Plate Ltd Venus Stainless NA Yoder
Farmer's Copper



Tube Mill Equipment & Machinery

National Bronze & Metals








GRB Innovations LLC



OMAX Corporation








Koike Aronson




XRF Analyzer




Olympus Scientific Solutions Americas


Instagram Icon Large twitter facebook linkedin rss

FFJ 1115 brandingcovers