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Steel Success Strategies promises knowledge, honors

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Hundreds of steel industry executives, analysts and other experts from around the globe will gather in June at Steel Success Strategies XXIX sponsored by AMM and World Steel Dynamics Inc. to get the best insight into the health of the industry halfway through 2014, as well as take advantage of networking opportunities. 

The June 16-18 conference at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel offers a chance to get a North American and a global perspective on the industry. (To learn more or register, visit www.amm.com.) 

Keynote speakers scheduled to appear include John J. Ferriola, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp.; Nicholas R. Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington; Lakshmi N. Mittal, chairman and chief executive officer of Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal SA; and James L. Wainscott, chairman, president and chief executive officer of West Chester, Ohio-based AK Steel Corp.

A highlight of the event will be the June 17 dinner and ceremony honoring this year’s winners of the fifth annual AMM Awards for Steel Excellence as well as the latest inductees into AMM’s Steel Hall of Fame.

The awards recognize best-in-class companies in steel and related industries. A total of 39 nominees are finalists in 14 distinct categories spanning the steel supply chain.

“This year saw a record number of applicants and nominations for these prestigious awards, with entries from all sectors of the industry and many parts of the world. ... Because of the size and caliber of this year’s nomination pool, identifying the finalists that reflect true innovation was a challenge,” David Brooks, AMM senior vice president, publisher and editor in chief, said. “Each year we receive scores of nominations from exceptional companies, and this year was no different.”

A panel of judges comprised of steel industry experts will select the winner in each of 14 categories. The winner of a 15th category—Industry Ambassador/Advocate of the Year—also will be announced at the conference.

AMM also will induct four giants of the steel industry into its Steel Hall of Fame: Paul W. Dillon, Gerald Heffernan, John H. McConnell and Agostino Rocca.

With attendance from every major steelmaker around the world, Steel Success Strategies XXIX delegates form a veritable who’s who of the global steel industry. Delegates are expected to include representatives from steel mills, steel and raw material traders, iron ore producers, technology providers, logistics companies, analysts and consultants, distributors, automotive and consumer goods manufacturers, construction companies, scrap suppliers, banks and financiers, exchanges and clearing houses, and more.

More than 900 people attended the event last year, representing more than 500 companies from 37 countries. Nearly half of those who attended were high-level company executives, with managers, directors, analysts and consultants forming the remainder. 

Markets have been challenging in recent months, a topic that steel industry leaders and other experts are expected to address while also touching on where the bright spots are and how businesses can take advantage of them. 

The conference agenda seeks to help attendees understand the global steel market, with a particular focus on the United States, by gaining insight into what happened in the industry in 2013, how it affected business, and what is likely to happen in the remainder of 2014.

Industry leaders will share their strategies and expansion plans with senior-level decision-makers from along the entire supply chain. In fact, the conference is the only event where participants can get a North American and global perspective on the industry, and every part of the supply chain is expected to be well represented.

Last year’s conference provided some interesting takes on where 2013 and early 2014 were heading. U.S. steelmakers were facing difficult times in the near term as global political and financial uncertainty put a chill on the global economic outlook, top steel industry executives said last June.

Many U.S. steel producers had faced a challenging few years due to overcapacity and global economic malaise, but there were some reasons to be optimistic about the recovering region, several top executives said in a panel discussion at last year’s conference.

“We would certainly agree that we are in a new paradigm where sluggish world economics ... will continue to pressure steel margins,” Mark D. Millett, president and chief executive officer of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Steel Dynamics Inc., said. “But the sun is coming out in America, and it will shine some prosperity on steel companies in this country in the years ahead.”

“We are seeing some bright spots in the market for certain steel products, highlighted for us by a healthy and growing automotive industry,” AK Steel chairman, president and chief executive officer James L. Wainscott said. “The automotive market continues to be a real bright spot for us and many others.”

But the recovery wasn’t just anecdotal, said Joseph Alvarado, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Irving, Texas-based Commercial Metals Co., citing real improvements in key industry metrics. “The U.S. consumed the same amount of steel in 2012 as it did in 2008,” he said. “The underlying data shows us that our (economic) data is improving, just not as quickly as we’d like it to and not as quickly as it did following a recession.”

But Alvarado noted that infrastructure spending remained a challenge. “I would be remiss if I didn’t mention infrastructure, or the lack thereof,” he said. “The U.S. didn’t get to the No. 1 global position by avoiding infrastructure.”

Also contributing to the brighter U.S. outlook was the availability of low-priced natural gas, which many call a game-changer for steel and other energy-intensive industries. But only those who take advantage of natural gas will remain on top, executives said.

“Steel companies are now being compelled to ask a difficult question about whether, when and how to adapt their strategies to take advantage of natural gas rapidly being extracted from the shale fields in the United States,” said Nick Sowar, global metals sector leader for London-based Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.

Whether those viewpoints still hold or have changed significantly over the past 12 months will up for discussion at the 2014 conference.


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