Two survivors of the bust capitalize on the Web’s connectivity capabilities to link buyers and sellers of secondary steel

Jun 01, 2010 | 05:34 AM | Scott Robertson

Connecting buyers and sellers of damaged steel goods is hardly an easy feat, but two businesses born in steel's dot-com era have found success in buying, marketing and selling secondary steel products.

SteelSalvor LLC, Houston, auctions steel and other products. The company is run by Scott Downs, who got his introduction to the steel business in a somewhat unconventional manner. Instead of beginning in a steel mill and working his way up, he got his start in more of an outpost than a management post. But now, as president and chief executive officer of SteelSalvor, he has been able to gain a perspective on the market for secondary steel—the products rejected by end-users, mills, service centers and traders as unusable but which still must find a home.

Downs was a marine cargo surveyor, whose job included inspecting steel imports—in effect, serving to make sure the products weren't damaged. Sometimes they were, and in those damaged products he found a new career.

"What I did was inspect the steel coming in to see if it was damaged," he said. "If it was, I filed a report, sort of like an insurance investigator. The damaged steel would then be segregated from the cargo and sold in a closed-loop process. We really didn't need to do any marketing. We just had people we knew who were looking for steel.....

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