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Steel executive, political advisor, one-of-a-kind difference maker

Aug 03, 2017 | 08:00 PM | Nat Rudarakanchana


Daniel R. DiMicco, former chief executive officer of Nucor Corp. and recent maverick political advisor, is no stranger to the steel and manufacturing arenas or public recognition as a passionate and effective advocate for causes he deems critical to the nation’s economic future.

DiMicco, in fact, is the only individual to win AMM’s annual Steel Excellence Award for Industry Advocate of the Year two times. He was named Advocate of the Year at AMM’s inaugural awards dinner in 2010 and earned the honor seven years later in June 2017.

In the intervening years, DiMicco retired from Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor, authored a thought-provoking, 256-page book, served as a trade adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, and formally rejoined the political advocacy arena, chairing the fair trade, non-profit Coalition for a Prosperous America.

Animated, influential, and a lightening rod for causes he embraces, DiMicco has sparked both praise and controversy within the steel industry.

In presenting DiMicco the Advocate of the Year Award at AMM’s June 27 awards dinner in New York¸ North American steel and scrap editor Thorsten Schier cited the former Nucor executive’s obvious passion and concern for hot-button industry issues ranging from trade and the future of domestic manufacturing to the. long-term sustainability of America’s steel production base.

DiMicco has advocated for domestic steelmakers and indeed, the entire U.S. manufacturing sector “for decades,” Schier noted.
His voice and influence now reach and reverberate far beyond the immediate confines of the American steel sector to the White House, where some say the backbone of the Trump administration’s trade policy has been formed around ideas DiMicco championed for years.

“It is again my honor to accept this award,” DiMicco told AMM via e-mail. In his statement to AMM, DiMicco emphasized the importance of actually implementing big, nationwide policy changes, as far outweighing any personal recognition or achievements of his own. Implementing such actions will not only revive U.S. metals and manufacturing, but sustain their growth, he stressed.

“Manufacturing must grow back to 20 percent of our GDP from 11 percent today,” DiMicco told AMM. “President Trump has made a lot of promises on economic growth, trade, tax and manufacturing policies.

“We are counting on him delivering those promises,” said DiMicco, who has advocated for such policies since the start of the millennium, if not earlier

Released in March 2015, before Trump declared his candidacy, DiMicco’s recent book reveals tons about his character and values in addition to his economic and business philosophy.

The book distills and shares informed and valuable insights from DiMicco’s decades-long engagement with steel and government policy.

In it, DiMicco champions domestic manufacturing, criticizes foreign subsidies and dumping, and urges government to be bold in the fight against unfair trade.

The book’s title echoes a theme that Trump later embraced to great effect: American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness.

“The whole world is being flooded with Chinese steel,” DiMicco told AMM in 2015, just prior to the publication of his book. That year, China exported 112.4-million tonnes of steel—the highest tonnage ever exported by China, or any other nation for that matter.

DiMicco wrote the book partly, he told AMM in 2015, to “hold politicians accountable,” so they’d start pursuing “real job creation, real economic growth” and a “strong leadership role” for the U.S.

Those goals align with DiMicco’s own track record as a leader, a job creator, and a transformative business executive.

DiMicco led Nucor, which now ranks as the largest U.S. steelmaker based on capacity, from a mid-sized steelmaker to a steel behemoth. During his tenure as chief executive officer, which stretched from September 2000 until 2012, he oversaw more than 50 acquisitions worth a collective $6.5 billion.

DiMicco joined Nucor in 1982 as a plant metallurgist and manager for quality control at the company’s Plymouth, Utah mill. He later headed the key Nucor-Yamato joint venture facility, the largest structural beam mill in the country, for eight years. He was then named an executive vice president at Nucor, a position which only seven people out of steelmaker’s 24,000-strong staff now fill.

Following Trump’s 2016 presidential victory, DiMicco was tapped as a senior transition advisor, leading a transition team for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Rumors were rife that he would fill the cabinet-level USTR position, but ultimately Trump picked Robert Lighthizer, another steel industry veteran, for the spot.

In December of last year, however, DiMicco travelled to Trump Tower in New York for a visit that drew the eyes and ears of many observers in the steel industry.

DiMicco still serves as chairman emeritus of Nucor, an honorary position he has held since January 2014. His almost 13-year tenure as chief executive officer makes him the longest serving CEO since the company’s legendary founder Ken Iverson.

John Ferriola, DiMicco’s successor and Nucor’s current chief executive officer, described DiMicco as “a tireless advocate for American steel” and a man with “passion and vision” who tells the “unvarnished truth,” in 2010, when DiMicco first won AMM’s Advocate of the Year  award.


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