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Overregulation said top nonferrous burden

Jun 25, 2013 | 03:30 PM |

Tags  copper, regulations, labor, brass, MSCI, Bill Sales, Reliance Steel & Aluminum, Bill Jones O'Neal Industries

KOHLER, Wis. — Industry leaders in the downstream nonferrous metal markets say burdensome government regulations and a lack of skilled labor are major threats to the marketplace.

"It’s difficult to find any regulations that are pro-business," William Sales, senior vice president of nonferrous operations at Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co., said in a panel discussion at the Metals Service Center Institute’s (MSCI) Copper and Brass Products Division Conference on June 24.

"It complicates our lives and business and increases costs," he said.

Provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that require businesses that source minerals from the region surrounding the Democratic Republic of Congo ensure the sales do not benefit conflict groups are one example of regulation impeding the industry, sources said (, May 31).

"Dodd-Frank should have nothing to do with how I run my business," Michael Petersen, president of Petersen Aluminum Corp., said. "Now I have to get letters from my coating suppliers and it’s an enormous waste of time."

The Elks Grove Village, Ill.-based company has also had to deal with new health-care regulations as a small business, he added.

Other executives on the conference panel agreed that the new conflict mineral rules are proving challenging for downstream metals companies both in and outside of the United States.

"As a foreign-owned company, we don’t technically have to comply but we do because our customers are in the U.S. and they have to comply," said Frank Kevane, president and chief executive officer of ThyssenKrupp Material NA’s copper and brass sales, a subsidiary of Germany-based ThyssenKrupp AG.

Others said they are concerned about new trucking regulations that reduce working hours for drivers (, June 21).

Regulators did not think about how difficult those rules make maintaining a fleet and delivering product to customers, said Bill Jones, vice chairman of Birmingham, Ala.-based metal service center O’Neal Industries Inc.

Jones and the other panelists also discussed the difficulty of finding new talent to replace workers and grow companies.

"We are going to lose a lot of people in the next few years," Jones said. "A third of the workforce will retire. And to retain top talent, we’ll have to keep challenging them."

All four panelists added it is important to try to market the industry to young people and educate potential employees with training programs and internships.

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