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Kurt Orban, investors create SBQ firm

Keywords: Tags  John Foster, Partners in Steel International LLC, Kurt Orban Partners, special bar quality steel distribution, SBQ, Bar Source International LLC, Chicago Iron & Steel, Esmark Steel Corp. John Fowler

NEW YORK — Industry veteran John Foster’s Partners in Steel International LLC has teamed up with a consortium of investors, including trading house Kurt Orban Partners, to form a new special bar quality (SBQ) distribution company aimed at serving the energy, automotive, capital equipment and agricultural sectors.

The new company, called Bar Source International LLC, was formed June 6 following Houston-based Partners in Steel’s purchase of Chicago Steel & Iron Bar’s SBQ assets from parent company Esmark Steel Group LLC, Chicago Heights, Ill. (, June 7).

The new company will have its administrative offices in the Chicago area, with multiple distribution locations throughout the country, the largest of which is expected to be in Houston, the company said.

Jason Fowler, a 22-year veteran in the long products and special steels market, will serve as chief executive officer of Bar Source International. Fowler, who was most recently with Chicago Steel & Iron Bar, will be joined by several key sales and administrative management personnel from the former Chicago Steel & Iron Bar, which Esmark told AMM would be dissolved this week following the conclusion of the asset sale.

The venture marks the first foray into the distribution space for investor Kurt Orban Partners, a specialty steel trading house in Burlingame, Calif.

Kurt Orban Partners said that it isn’t trying to step on the toes of its customers with the new venture, but instead, will act more as a financier and procurement arm for the distribution assets, according to Foster, who serves as both president of Kurt Orban Partners and managing director of consulting, marketing and investment services company Partners in Steel.

"This is an investment into a distribution company," Foster told AMM. Pipe has always been an important part of (Kurt Orban’s) business, (but) we’ve never been much of a factor in bar before."

Having the backing of a trading house like Kurt Orban Partners is expected to be a major benefit to the newly created Bar Source International, added Matt Orban, chairman and chief executive officer of Kurt Orban Partners.

"The combination of a full service distributor with strong support from a world class, tier one trading organization such as Kurt Orban Partners ... adds a dynamic element to (Bar Source International)," he said in a statement, citing Kurt Orban Partners’ "long history of supporting the U.S. market and its vested interest in responsibly supporting market inventory values."

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