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Outokumpu ramps up Calvert stainless mill

Keywords: Tags  Outokumpu Stainless USA, Outokumpu, Michael Wallis, Calvert, Alabama, stainless steel market, stainless prices, ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA Inoxum

NEW YORK — Outokumpu Stainless USA LLC says it plans to be “competitive on pricing” as it targets a 25-percent share in the North American stainless market by 2014.

With the company currently ramping up production at the Calvert, Ala., facility it acquired through a 2012 merger with Duisburg, Germany-based Inoxum Group, parent of ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA LLC, chief executive officer Michael Wallis told AMM that the company is preparing to gain market share.

“Our intention is to be competitive on pricing,” Wallis said. “It’s what I’ve told all our customers, and I’ve visited with many of them in the last six months. Our goal is not to undercut on pricing; our goal is to be competitive. We believe we’ll take market share as we ramp up this facility because of the capabilities and superior-quality products.”

One of those capabilities is the production of 72-inch-wide coils, which makes the facility unique among U.S. stainless plants, Wallis said.

He added that Outokumpu was staying mindful of ThyssenKrupp’s previously stated goal of attaining 25 percent market share by 2014, although he noted that this target covered the entire North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) region and not just the United States.

“2013 was always going to be a ramp-up year,” he said. “My expectation is that we’ll ramp up the melt shop this year, and in 2014 we would be looking to get roughly 25 percent. It’s not a specific number.”

Espoo, Finland-based parent company Outokumpu Oyj said earlier this month that the combined market share of the Calvert facility and its facility in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, stood at around 20 percent (, Jan. 8).

Melt shop director Guido Stebner said Jan. 24 that the shop is currently producing around 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes of stainless per month and has an eventual production target of around 75,000 tonnes per month. The company expects to hit this capacity in 2015, Wallis added.

The company is currently on a recruitment drive for another 150 workers, as the melt shop looks to move to round-the-clock production capability from its current Tuesday-to-Friday schedule.

Outokumpu business development specialist John Garrett said that all of the personnel currently located at Calvert would remain with the company, with most of the consolidation from the Inoxum merger set to take place in the European market.

Wallis was also bullish on the long-term prospects for the stainless market, despite a relative lull in prices over the last few years. “When you look at the markets that stainless finds itself in from an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) standpoint, many of those industries are expected to grow significantly over the next five to 10 years. So we think we’re in a very good position,” he said.

“The stainless market, like all markets, has seen a reduction in demand over the last few years, but that won’t slow down the growth here,” he added.

According to AMM’s pricing assessment, 304 cold-rolled sheet is currently trading at $140 per hundredweight up from $129 per hundredweight in December 2012 but down from $160 per hundredweight in March 2012.

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