February, 2024- 

One might surmise that starting up a company just as pandemic lockdowns spread all over the world would be the death knell for that company in short order. But overcoming that obstacle and coming out strong might be an excellent bellwether for the company’s long-term survival.

Stephen Cucich is managing director of Quarto North America LLC, Limerick, Pennsylvania, and has 33 years of experience in the specialty metals industry.

“Quarto North American launched in January 2020. We felt the market needed another master distributor to better serve service centers and distributors,” he says.

Sourcing from European and North American mills, Quarto sells stainless steel and nickel alloy plate, and stainless steel bar. The grades it carries start with austenitics, the most widely used of all stainless steels for industrial, commercial and domestic applications due to their formability and corrosion and heat resistance.

It also carries stainless with high nickel and molybdenum content, which is highly corrosion resistant in harsh environments like the chemical and petrochemical industries.

Quarto’s line of duplex and super duplex stainless steels resist stress corrosion cracking, even in chloride and sulphide environments. Heat-resistant grades are titanium-stabilized austenitic stainless steels often used in annealing covers, stack liners, automotive exhaust systems, welded pressure vessels, flanges and valves.

Quarto’s nickel alloys offer exceptional resistance to corrosive environments, especially pitting and crevice corrosion, and high creep-rupture strength. These grades are used in marine, chemical, nuclear and aerospace engineering parts and components, among other challenging applications.

     The master distributor has warehouses in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin

 

     Quarto North America specializes in distributing stainless steel and nickel alloy plate and bar products. 

HEAVY PLATE

The plate sizes carried by Quarto range from 3/16 inch up to 6 inches thick and from 60 to 120 inches wide, with lengths from 120 to 480 inches. On round bar, Quarto stocks 1/4-inch to 20-inch diameters. Besides Limerick, Quarto operates warehouses in Houston and Racine, Wisconsin.

“We don’t do any cutting. We are strictly a master distributor,” says Cucich. “We sell to mom-andpops and also to the large publicly held service center networks. They sell our stock to all the end markets.”

Outbound shipments reach all corners of North America, mostly using flatbed trucks and less-thantruckload carriers.

UPS AND DOWNS

“We launched during COVID in 2020, and we saw a slowdown immediately. In the second half of 2021 and during all of 2022, the market was very, very good,” Cucich says. “We had low supply and high demand, and extended lead times from the mills. “As we got into 2023, things slowed down as the year progressed. Inflation pushed prices up. We expect a steady year in 2024. In an election year, there is uncertainty and that might hold [certain projects] up but I think the year will be decent.

       Shipments reach all corners of North America, using flatbed trucks and less-than- truckload carriers. 

HANDS ON

Cucich says Quarto is “hands on, frequently in touch with our customers. We are very responsive. One service we provide is breaking small bundles. Customers can buy one single bar or one single plate, if they wish.

“Normally, we offer customers 48-hour turnaround,” he says, “but we can have material ready same day if they are really in a pinch, for pickup.” He says a customer once called into Quarto with an order at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday “and wanted to pick it up in one hour. They picked it up at 5:30.”

He says the company, consisting of five office staff and four warehouse employees, takes “care of the whole process, from order to delivery. We arrange logistics and customs. We try to cater to customers’ needs in terms of the grades and sizes they want. We try to go above and beyond, and process each order quickly.” Recently, says Cucich, Quarto earned AS9120, the aerospace quality certification, for its products.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

“Tariffs were just extended for another year and a half. Whether you like it or not, it is a known factor. So that will not negatively impact our business.”

Cucich is referring to the extension (to March 2025) of an existing suspension of the European Union’s rebalancing tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum. The EU rebalancing tariffs on U.S. exports were a response to the U.S. Section 232 tariffs on European-made steel and aluminum. The U.S. agreed not to apply a 25 percent tariff on EU steel nor a 10 percent tariff on EU aluminum, and to grant further exclusions from the tariffs for EU suppliers exporting to American customers.

Quarto North America, http://quarto-na.com/

 

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