Global Brass & Copper Inc., East Alton, Ill., the former Olin Corp. metals business acquired by New York-based KPS Capital Partners LP, has named John H. Walker as chief executive officer.
Walker, who previously served as chief executive of Weirton Steel Corp. and president of rolled products at Kaiser Aluminum Corp., Foothill Ranch, Calif., sees key opportunities in the new role.
"What attracted us to the business is that it is a phenomenal brand name with a leading position in many markets," Walker said. "The assets have been maintained and had investments made in them," he said. "We like the work force as well."
One advantage of being a standalone business is that the metals operations will no longer have to compete within Olin's structure for resources. "We believe a focus on the metals business will find opportunity," Walker said, citing as an example Global's Eco Brass product, a lead-free plumbing material winning favor among consumers.
High-performance alloys also offer opportunities, he said. "We have the only research and development facility in North America developing these alloys," Walker said. While these alloys have already achieved domestic penetration, continued use in the U.S. auto sector also will help bolster business, he added.
Walker said his major challenge will be to ensure that Global Brass has the lowest possible cost structure in an industry still dealing with overcapacity. "This is an environment in which there is a tremendous need to increase efficiencies," he said.
The downturn in the U.S. residential building sector will have a greater pull on the rod and bar business than on the flat-rolled operations, which have much less exposure to the current downturn. For Walker, it will be all about costs. "It will be necessary to maintain control of costs through the down period," he said.
KPS completed its $400-million purchase of the Olin metals business in November.