A very mixed bag of views among the ‘competition’

Oct 01, 2008 | 06:57 AM |

Mill-owned service centers An idea whose time has come, gone and come back again?

Wall Street hasn't jumped on the bandwagon and most mills have found other ways to invest the profits they've piled up in the past four years, when global metal markets began their climb upward. But service center executives, a number of whom aren't themselves crazy about the prospect of mill ownership, aren't dismissing the idea out of hand, either.

"Nothing's impossible," said David H. Hannah, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. "We don't think it's necessary and we don't think it needs to be done. At the same time, who knows whether or not it will happen again?"

One reason distributors think mills could eventually buy their way into the service center industry is the mountain of money they've made since the global market for steel and other metals turned around in 2004. Once they've bought all the iron ore mines and fabrication plants they can, the thinking goes, they'll want to increase their presence in distribution.....

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