2017 Service Center of the Year Finalists
Built on a foundation rooted in customer service, Bedford Park, Ill.-based Alliance Steel rolled out several new service-related programs aimed at giving customers what they want in a mutually beneficial way.
While Alliance Steel has a long history of keeping customers happy, it insists there is no reason or excuse for ceasing to innovate through the introduction of bigger and bolder service-oriented initiatives. One recent program debuted in that spirit saw the addition of an inside sales layer tasked with reaching beyond the companys existing customer service representatives to provide greater coverage, communication and information
Also rolled out was a new online, dashboard-based portal. Synched to the companys enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, it provides customers full access to the information they require.
The company also made significant capital improvements, one of which underwrote the installation of a new Red Bud stretcher leveler, which enhanced Alliance Steels coil processing capabilities by giving it faster cycle times than its competitors.
Alliance Steel has also made major strides in increasing production efficiencies and streamlining the flow of information throughout the organization, including the plant manager, the production planning team, equipment operators and the sales staff. Super-high-definition cameras installed on all of the companys equipment gives workers visual access through a web-based program to all the jobs running on any of the companys lines anytime, anywhere.
The approach has virtually eliminated line downtime, production planning stoppages and quality errors, allowing the company to significantly enhance production efficiencies. Working in tandem with an upgrade to ISO 9000-2015, the high-tech seeing-eye system has helped Alliance Steel maintain a companywide rejection rate well under the national average.
Due in part to its commitment to continuous improvement and constant change, Jemison Metals is coming off the strongest, multi-year stretch in the companys history.
Not only did the Birmingham, Ala.-based service center increase its gross margin generated after delivery expenses to $32.6 million in 2016 from $17.8 million in 2013, but Jemison Metals greeted 2017 with the best-ever combined January/February in the companys history.
In 2016, Jemison not only maintained business relationships with 100 percent of its 2015 contract customers but also logged positive. year-on- year tonnage growth at each of its facilities. Annual growth in total owned tons jumped 14.2 percent while market share expanded by 17.7 percent.
Last year also saw Jemison Metals successfully return the Lynchburg, Va., facility it acquired from ONeal Industries in December, 2015, back into the black. The acquisition added stainless steel and aluminum to Jemisons product mix.
Key to the turnaround at Lynchburg, accomplished in only one year, was a rigorous transition to Jemisons enterprise resource planning (ERP) and Forecasting, Inventory Management Tracking (FIT) systems. As a result of the implementation, the facility reversed course and went from bleeding red ink to contributing $694,682 to Jemisons EBITDA by the end of 2016. It also now claims 100-percent on-time deliveries vs. 72.27-percent in January 2016.
Last year Jemison also purchased equipment for installation at its fabrication division. The investment is keyed to support growth in the tonnage of fabricated products by 72.55 percent on a year-to-year basis as well as to expand the units net margin contribution by 72.94 percent to $1,440,652.
Now in its second, full year of operation, Jemisons fabrication division provides for synergies between the mill-to-service center-to fabrication production process, resulting in a lower resale price for the customer.
Klein Steel Service Inc.
Klein Steel Service Inc. has opened a new chapter in its 45-year history during which it has grown from a local distributor to a regional distribution and processing center and now to a national leader in the transformation of the steel service center industry.
The milestone comes as the companys marketing, sales and customer service departments have been expanded, enabling the integration of their efforts to establish consistent, more frequent customer contacts. Not only did Rochester, N.Y.-based Klein Steel successfully maintain 99 percent of its customer base in 2016, but it acquired new customers from a roster of major, medium and small companies that have committed to $40 million of new business, helping the company meet its strategic plan for yearly sales growth.
In 2016, Klein Steel increased its inventory turns to 5.1, up from 4.9 turns the previous year and charted a 19 -percent (17.1-million pound) increase in shipments. The companys inventory balance at yearend 2016 was 6.7 million pounds higher than it was at the end of 2015 as a result of the stocking requirements of their new customers. Despite challenging market conditions, Klein Steel also improved its days sales outstanding (DSO) ratio to 4.9 days while reducing its write-off rate by 6 percent in 2016.
2016 also saw Klein Steel partner with leading manufacturers for the steel construction industry to configure an innovative, intelligent steel production system that performs multiple production sequences automatically. Those sequences are managed and monitored by intelligent devices that assure maximum efficiency and quality. The company also opened a 40,000-square foot hub facility equipped with an innovative, intelligent steel production system to achieve efficiencies and quality that Klein Steel maintains are unparalleled in the industry.
MidWest Materials, Inc.
Billing itself as more than a leading service center, MidWest Materials, Inc. is dedicated to promoting the future of the entire steel industry through its long standing focus on customer service initiatives and its relationship-based business model.
While already a leader in customer service, MidWest Materials achieved even greater success in that arena in 2016 through the promotion of key employees overseeing customer service, steel and non-steel purchasing and transportation. These personnel moves combined with a double-digit growth in new hires, allowed MidWest Materials to expand its customer base by more than 10 percent in 2016.
At the same time, the company has stayed true to its commitment to invest in its property, facility, systems and operations to maintain a high level of safety, efficiency, quality and delivery. Upgrades undertaken by Midwest Materials last year include the installation of cranes and new motorized sheet lifters to enable the company to adapt to the changing and unique sizes customers now require, as well as to adapt to increased crane capacities. The upgrades have also helped provide a safer and more efficient working environment for employees.
This year in line with their customers higher product quality requirements, MidWest Materials introduced new criteria for the inspection of manufactured goods. The company also continued to invest in its Leveltek Stretch Leveling System. The largest such system in North America, the unit is capable of producing unmarked, flat, memory-free steel measuring up to 5/8-inch thick and 100- inches wide. The upgrades improved its speed, quality and inspection capabilities.
Midwest Materials investments in its manufacturing and shipping facilities have enabled it to grow its workforce, increase its product offerings and grow sales in this challenging marketplace. The companys rejection rate fell from an already-low 0.26 percent in 2015 to 0.01 percent in 2016.
Chicago-based Ryerson, Inc. has grown from a small iron store in 1842 to an international, diversified metals processor and distributor counting some 3,600 employees working in about 100 locations in North America and China.
With $3.0-billion in last twelve months (LTM) sales through March 31, 2016 and 1.9 million tonnes of shipments in 2015, Ryerson distributes 65,000 different products to 40,000 active customers. It prides itself in having a local presence but international capabilities, expert customer service and a diverse portfolio of products and services.
Through its integrated network of service centers, Ryerson benefits from better asset utilization, including shared and optimized inventories, shared processing equipment and shared human resources, as well as highly responsive customer service through local service centers, its Ryerson.com e-commerce web sites and after-hours call centers.
Because it offers a broad range of products to a diversified group of industrial manufacturing customers, Ryerson has been able to weather all market cycles. Continued market share growth, strong margins, cash generation and improving quality of earnings testify to its resilience and durability.
Ryersons transformation is also gaining momentum, positioning it to benefit from further potential industrial growth. Not only is the company continuing to execute its growth strategy through increased value-added processing, deployment of innovative sales channels, supply chain mapping and accretive merger and acquisition activity, it is also benefiting from expected industry rationalization as metals consumption and fixed asset investment recovers toward historical averages.
Ryerson is also focused on quality management, an objective and procedure being driven throughout its team. Ryerson continually increases the effectiveness of its quality management system which is in conformance with ISO 9001:2008 through customer feedback, continuous improvement projects, corrective and preventative action and lean concepts.
Samuel, Son & Co., Ltd.
Dubbed the Samuel Way, customer service is and has been a top priority at Samuel, Son & Co. Limited, since the Mississauga, Ontario-based service center opened for business in 1855.
Samuel, Son provides customers access to all of the resources that the company has to offer, including its people, its suppliers, its service providers, its equipment providers and more. By making a dedicated inside sales person, a backup inside sales person, an outside sales person and a management person available to customers, Samuel, Son treats each one as if they are their only customer. It subscribes to the belief that, as true business partners, if the companys customers succeed, Samuel, Son will succeed.
Embracing that philosophy, the company not only to know what its customers expect, but what its customers customers are seeking so that it can provide the assistance, ideas and business opportunities to make Samuel, Son the supplier of choice.
In 2016, Samuel, Son did not lose a single customer due to service issues or late deliveries. In fact, the company recorded a 99.1-percent on-time delivery rate.
That same year, the company expanded its automotive service center in Columbia, Tenn., added a stretcher leveler and expanded its building in Winnipeg, Manitoba, installed a high-definition, plasma machine and cut-to-length line in Hayward and Los Angeles, Calif., and added aluminum plate saws in Portland, Ore. Other additions included the installation of a new laser in Stoney Creek, Ontario, new plate processing equipment and machining centers in Buffalo, N.Y., and Neville Island, Pa., new bar saws in Cambridge, Ontario, and a cut-to-length line in Hamilton, Ontario.
Last year, Samuel, Son also opened new service center locations in Colorado, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Ontario and British Columbia, as well as an aerospace metals service center in China.