Stainless Steel
Thursday | 25 July, 2013 | 9:16 am

Global operations, local service

By Lauren Duensing

Above, left to right: Timothy Yost, president of Ken-Mac Metals and ThyssenKrupp Steel Services, and Hans-Josef Hoss, president and CEO, TKMNA.

ThyssenKrupp Steel Services and Ken-Mac Metals focus on targeted expansion

July 2013 - Today’s metals companies juggle the nuances of a global market with the need to provide top-notch service to local customers. For the past 19 years, ThyssenKrupp Materials NA Inc.’s coil processing business, comprised of Ken-Mac Metals and ThyssenKrupp Steel Services, has grown organically in the United States. At the same time, it’s taken advantage of the benefits that come from its parent company’s network of 600 companies in more than 80 countries. 

In total, TKMNA employs about 3,000 people and has annual sales of $2.5 billion. In 1994, TKMNA acquired Ken-Mac Metals, a distributor of aluminum, prepainted aluminum and stainless steel sheet and strip. At the time of the acquisition, “we had one location in Cleveland and a very small plant in Detroit,” says Timothy Yost, president of Ken-Mac Metals and ThyssenKrupp Steel Services. “What we’ve done over the last 19 years is create an internal growth strategy that’s all organic and absent of any acquisitions within the group. We’ve grown internally by adding new facilities, in new geographies and we did it with people throughout the United States.”

Targeted expansion

Although the company’s footprint has expanded significantly with corresponding increases in sales revenues and pounds, the growth has been controlled, Yost says, targeting certain regions of the United States. “Our focus has been growing this company organically by geographically expanding our footprint outside of Cleveland and Detroit,” he notes. The expansion began in Detroit where the company built “a greenfield, state-of-the-art logistics and distribution facility,” Yost says. “Then, we added a facility in Los Angeles, which also was all greenfield growth, then we went on to Kenosha, Wis.; Richburg, S.C.; Kansas City, Mo., Seattle; and now we’re ready to launch our newest facility in Birmingham, Ala., which will open in October 2013.”


The additional locations allow the company to support customers across the United States. “Twenty years ago, it was a challenge to supply customers that had facilities in Georgia, Alabama, the West Coast and other locations,” Yost says. “We have expanded our plant facilities to support new geographies, new customers and our valued suppliers as well as support many customers that have multiple locations.”

“It’s very important to choose growth areas that work for us,” adds Hans-Josef Hoss, president and CEO, TKMNA. For the company’s newest facility, it was “important for us to go to Alabama because we see a lot of automobile and industrial growth in that area,” Hoss says. “There is not only a specific customer there but a complete customer group. If we wanted to be a part of the growth in that area, we needed to be local.”

The quality of TKMNA’s local service is bolstered by the company’s global experience. “We have locations in more than 80 countries around the world and more than 150,000 people worldwide,” Hoss says. “This is a huge benefit for customers. Solutions can be aligned with each other, they can be coordinated and we can take out the complexity. We can manage supply chain solutions to customers across different countries and different areas of the world.

“The speed of the market has changed tremendously over the years,” Hoss continues. “Because of that speed, it was important to us to maintain the flexibility locally to act according to the customers’ needs. It is very important that we maintain the balance between acting as an international company and meeting our customers’ needs.”

“The global marketplace is continuously evolving, and ThyssenKrupp is extremely well positioned and will continue to drive opportunities with customers and suppliers,” Yost adds. “We’re plugged in throughout the globe, and we offer time-sensitive solutions to complicated issues as a result of our global footprint.”


The power of people

Another benefit of the company’s international reach is “talent management, helping our people develop and allowing them to be engaged on an international basis,” Hoss says. Worldwide, ThyssenKrupp offers its employees training programs to help them develop their skills and become more proficient at their jobs. 

In addition, “we have to make sure that everybody that’s joining the company has a chance to develop,” Hoss says. “We are offering internship programs to young talent, and we are working together with universities in order to get access to that talent. It is important to not only identify talent but we also want to retain them inside the company.”

To enhance employee retention, ThyssenKrupp provides young employees with “background knowledge about how the company functions,” Hoss says. Although the employee is targeted for a specific position, such as sales, “we give them a chance to work in accounting or work in our warehouses so they have a broad perspective of what our company is like.”

“It’s all about people at our company,” Yost adds. “Our team makes or breaks us. We find the best, and our company is based on the simple philosophy of attracting, retaining, training, educating and challenging what we feel is the best team in the industry.”


A solid team helps TKMNA fill the new jobs that open up as a result of growth with employees who are knowledgeable about the company and committed to its values. “We’re in the ramp-up phase of our new service center in Alabama,” Hoss says. “For that, we need people: plant managers, people in outside sales and sales managers. As a result of our training programs, it is easier for us to identify the right talent and offer them career opportunities in our new facilities.”

Yost says the right people in the right positions is crucial to success because “at the end of the day, people buy from people. We can’t forget that, so we surround ourselves with the best in the industry. There are three main things that I think about when I think about leadership: No. 1 is integrity, No. 2 is vision and No. 3 is the ability to inspire others. If you have integrity, which our group does and our leadership team does, and you have the vision along with the ability to inspire others, with that theme from a leadership perspective, things tend to work out.”

Each ThyssenKrupp employee strives to meet high standards. The company’s mission statement promotes a common philosophy and strategic focus among its network of global companies. “We hold ourselves to the highest standards, we engage as entrepreneurs with confidence and passion to perform and we aim to be the best in class,” Hoss says. “Employee development is especially important, and health and workplace safety are top priorities. We care about our employees, and we want to give them a complete, safe and healthy work environment.”

“The business model we have is unique within our industry, and I’m very proud of the foundation this group has,” Yost says. “The foundation of this group is very deep, and we just keep expanding upon our guiding principles, breeding success and entrepreneurial spirit. The connectivity that we have globally is really impressive, and it is growing daily. The opportunities are endless going forward.” MM

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