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Editorial

Let’s talk metals

By Corinna Petry

April 2014 - I would like to introduce myself in case we’ve never met. I am very excited to be joining a premier magazine covering vitally important industries. I might as well tell you now, so there is no doubt: I love metals and I really love the many people I’ve met across my career covering the metals industry.

Mill reps, metallurgists, service center owners and operators, structural engineers, metal formers and fabricators, beam benders, maintenance guys, inside sales women—they are all hard working, sincere, professional people without whom this economy and this country would be third rate at best. Their ideas and their contributions matter. It is to these great folks that I owe thanks for my early and ongoing education in this industry.

I’ve matured since starting as a daily steel reporter in 1995, not knowing the difference between prime and secondary. So much has changed. One of my first plant tours was at Acme Metals in Riverdale, Ill., which ran a blast furnace that poured molten iron out into open trenches. I don’t know how many stories tall and nearly as wide, that furnace was loud, very hot and rather terrifying and thrilling at the same time. Since then, iron- and steelmaking technology has evolved to an enormous degree. Another early tour I took was at Inland Steel Co. in East Chicago, Ind., which at the time still owned Ryerson Inc. In those years, Ryerson published a thick product book detailing grades and sizes and listing prices on each item. It was an annual price list. Can you imagine?

I’ve reported on explosions, fires and floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, lockouts and strikes, mass bankruptcies, de-integration, re-integration. I remember the audience scoffing when Albert Cozzi predicted a time when shredded would reach $200 a ton. I remember Enron’s model for “virtual service centers.” I remember e-Steel. I remember Wilbur Ross being both loved and feared, depending on who you talked to.

I recall names like Bethlehem, National, Weirton, Lukens, Armco, Jones & Laughlin, Chaparral, Qualitech, Trico, LTV, Laclede, Birmingham, Arbed, Corus. The list goes on. Yet, I’m not here to reminisce, but to look to the future and I believe I’ve joined Modern Metals at just the right time. It’s a solid, mature but growing magazine reaching out to more and more readers. I’m glad to combine my industry experience with the energies and talent of a superb staff to give you high-quality information, bright graphics, easy-to-read tables. We want you to glean the best and strongest ideas and apply them where you see fit.

Before I go, I want to mention my friend Dave Hannah, whose Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. is the focus of our cover story. I’ve known Dave a long time and he’s a humble guy. He’s the first to tell you there are 14,000 employees at Reliance, each contributing to its meteoric rise over the past couple decades. Dave is also generous with his time and patient with people who need to learn the industry—like me, long ago.

So please enjoy this issue, tune in every month and check out the evolving features on our web site: www.modernmetals.com. And please call me anytime at 312-654-2315. I love to talk metals! MM

 

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