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Olympic sees bright spots in auto, agricultural

Nov 01, 2013 | 07:05 PM |

Tags  Olympic Steel, Inc., steel, automotive market, momentum, markets outlook, agricultural market, David A. Wolfort Michael D. Siegal

CHICAGO — Demand from the automotive industry remains strong and should continue at a high sales and production rate for the next few years, while both the agricultural and professional-grade food equipment business have grown, Olympic Steel Inc. executives said during an Oct. 31 earnings conference call.

All year Olympic has seen "a very uneven traffic environment. A number of our (original equipment manufacturing) customers are gaining traction but it’s uneven," president and chief operating officer David A. Wolfort said.

"(Our) long-term outlook is robust but we ultimately have to endure some of the choppiness in 2014," Wolfort said.

"Automotive (demand) remains relatively strong. We don’t foresee any kind of pull-back there," chairman and chief executive officer Michael D. Siegal said.

"Within the construction markets, things are improving slowly. When you look at food (equipment) and agricultural (machinery), those markets remain pretty good," Siegal said. "The outlook ... on the food and restaurants business, the service business as it relates to the American economy, is growing. We look at the food and ag business, while not robust, (as) pretty sustainable."

Mining equipment is facing the greatest headwinds this year, said Siegal, noting Caterpillar Inc.’s recent struggles (, Oct. 25). "It doesn’t mean we don’t want to improve our position with Caterpillar (across) their locations and divisions, but they’ve got those issues," he said.

Bedford Heights, Ohio-based Olympic is also pushing deeper into pre-manufacturing activities with key flat-rolled customers, Siegal said. "We are increasing integration and partnering with key accounts on more complex programs such as kit and parts and heavy assemblies. This increases the value component of our capabilities, while allowing customers to focus on their own capital returns, which typically are not in metal procurement and initial-stage processing."

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