Category

Your Advantage

Creating the Ultimate Customer Experience

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

Business and commerce go hand in hand, so in one way or another, all companies service a customer. While there is no denying that the quality of your product is crucial, there is no limit to the importance of servicing your customer. In order for a business to stand out among the crowd, it must emphasize on creating an exceptional experience for its customers.

At Pacesetter, we believe servicing the customer is of utmost importance. So much so that one of our core “Pacesetter Ways” is Commit to the Ultimate Customer Experience. This affects how we handle our decisions in the workplace, especially when it comes to interacting with customers. This “way” is revisited frequently so that it becomes more than just a value, but a guideline.

The Ultimate Customer Experience begins by recognizing that there is always room for improvement. This means optimizing every exchange your business comes in contact with.

Below are several tips that may help in creating your own Ultimate Customer Experience.

 

Be an expert

Expertise is one of the most paramount fundamentals in order to create the Ultimate Customer Experience. Your customer is putting trust in you to meet their needs above everyone else. This begins with knowing your product inside and out and being able to address any questions or concerns the customer has with ease.

 

Get to know your customers

Getting to know your customer is the only way to form a genuine lasting relationship with them. Be persistent in researching and investing in your customer. Understand their background and their strengths and weaknesses. Go over and beyond to recognize the customer’s needs, even when they cannot convey them.

 

Be respectful

Respect is the foundation of every strong relationship. Respecting your customer can be as easy as listening to them and valuing what they have to say. Providing the Ultimate Customer Experience should always make the customer feel respected rather than unappreciated and misheard.

 

Tailor your services

Never treat your customers as if they are all the same. Every customer should be regarded as unique and treated as such. One way to show your customers that you are willing to go over and beyond to meet their expectations is to offer flexible services and pricing options. By tailoring to your customer’s exact requests, you will never have to say “no” and cause them to doubt if you can handle their needs.

 

Give more than your competitors

There is no room for mediocrity in today’s competitive economy. One of the greatest assets you can possess in our industry is standing out amongst the crowd. A great way for a business to gain the upper hand is by studying their competitors and offering above and beyond what they do. For example, at Pacesetter we are more than a steel company. We act as advisors for our customers on every level, which in the end benefits both parties.

 

Get feedback — and give it!

It’s difficult to judge whether you are offering the Ultimate Customer Service. A great way to discover if you are best servicing your customer is to ask for feedback and ask for it often! Even though it may be intimidating to be open yourself to critique, it is the only true way to learn where your business is thriving and where there is room to improve. It’s hard to address a problem if you don’t know what the problem is! Good or bad, view feedback as an opportunity for growth. Be open to what your customers have to say and adjust your approach appropriately.

 

Remember feedback goes both ways. Give honest feedback to your customers about your perceptions. Compliment them when appropriate and help suggest ways they could improve. Viewing feedback as a two-way street can help boost your relationship, strengthen your trust, and – ultimately – create the best customer experience yet.

Turn and Face the Change: Automotive Supply Chain

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

Automakers worldwide have long chosen steel as their material of choice. Approximately 65% of every vehicle is made of steel.

The automotive and related market segments are always changing in an effort to meet global consumer needs. The supplier — whether directly for an automotive assembly plant or one of the tier levels — is required to be extremely flexible. In turn, the automotive industry demands many additional resources from their suppliers. A few of these include:

  • Continuous technical support including in plant presence JIT, VMI, deep payment terms, and single invoice logistics
  • Transparency
  • Unfettered access to all levels of a supplier including the executive suite

All the while, they are contractually responsible for meeting year-over-year cost reductions.

A supplier must be able to meet JIT inventories whether for raw material, processed coil, processed sheet, blanks, fabricated parts, stamped components, and/or assemblies. The automotive assembly market segment moves fast and is currently challenged with manufacturing automobiles that are lighter and stronger. In order to develop such materials, a supplier must provide qualified technical resources able to respond at a moment’s notice.

For a service center, an inventory analyst is an integral part of the automotive supply chain team. He or she is required to quarterback material consumption, coordinate processing and logistics, and serve as a key conduit to procurement. These professionals juggle a number of additional tasks, including:

  • Material consumption
  • Seasonal forecast and changes to forecasting
  • Extra material needs above forecast
  • Unexpected production run ahead

In the last 10 years, there has been an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) shift in focus towards supplier relation, and costs. We’ve seen a trend towards emphasis on fostering long term success amicably versus a one-sided position. The costs for automotive suppliers have risen to a point where providing additional resources above the commodity and meeting cost saving needs beyond the commodity can no longer be the burden of suppliers alone. The new focus has resulted in a transparent emphasis on value delivery, the true/actual landed delivered total cost of ownership. In my opinion, the service center suppliers, converters, and assembly providers must share the burden of exposure in order to reduce costs.

The domestic steel mills responsible for producing the material headed directly to an assembly plant or tier partner have become better at controlling the market pricing and deploying lead time pressure. In these areas, the automotive supplier is able to significantly reduce costs year-over-year beyond the normal commodity shrinking.

In other words, value add is critical, more so than in other industries. This holds true as many automotive manufacturers negotiate their material contracts directly with mills. Therefore, when a mill negotiates price, terms, and conditions directly with a steel mill, there is no opportunity for the supplier to reduce cost associated with the commodity. With no ability to reduce the commodity cost, the service center is expected to find reductions elsewhere. The demands  that the automotive industry makes of suppliers (such as price targets and squeezing margins) eventually challenges an organization’s decision over whether the expense to service and financial exposure is worth the resources required to continuously generate a positive ROI.

As with any large OEM market segment, there are risks, rewards, and challenges. The automotive market is typical in these respects. In fact, it may be more difficult to enter as a new participant than in other markets. The primary reason? Service centers that are considered “Major Automotive Service Centers” have aligned together, over time establishing an indispensable role in the supply chain. Their tenure of measurable success, ability to provide multiple levels of competitive deliverables, and the historical experience to do so profitably is what newcomers have to overcome when attempting entry.

Boosting Your Business With Local Resources

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

Your business does not exist in a vacuum — it’s subject to all the world’s external forces, and should therefore harness what it can to succeed. You could be doing everything right internally, but still fall short on profit and client outreach. That’s why it’s important to always be on the lookout for external opportunities, especially those close to home.

At Pacesetter, we’ve tapped into local businesses for partnerships, hiring initiatives, business development and much more. Doing so has been extraordinarily beneficial not just to our bottom line, but our community relationships.

Here are ways to utilize local resources, like universities and organizations, to make your business even better.

1. Identify your company’s needs

Boosting your business has to be a targeted effort with strategic goals. Improvement rarely comes to those who don’t understand what needs to be improved, after all. So, analyze your company from top to bottom to figure out where you’re falling short. Maybe you’re falling short in talented recruits, or your IT is lagging behind. Whatever it is, at Pacesetter, we prefer to see weaknesses as an opportunity to create something positive.

Different weaknesses will merit different solutions, and you’ll have to approach them one at a time. But identifying them is a great first step to creating something better.

2. Get a lay of the land

Now that you know your needs, you’ll need to learn what the community has to offer you. Do your research, or delegate a trusted team member to do so! Look for organizations and programs that help businesses like yours, whether by introducing new training procedures, or adjusting core values to get company culture back on course.

Pro tip? Universities are a great resource in a multitude of ways. Businesses can partner, collaborate, research and recruit with local schools. Local colleges and Small Business Development Centers can lend equipment, find you talented associates, and connect you with other businesses in your industry.

3. Network

Here’s a simple equation: a large personal network + a great business = lots of referrals. However, for some, building up that large personal network isn’t always easy (especially if you’ve been spending most of your time creating that great business).

Check out your Local Chamber of Commerce, Industry Publications and Trade Journals, Industry Awards, and even groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to find a networking event that suits you! From small meet-ups and workshops to black-tie galas, there are more professional networking opportunities nearby than you realize!

Not sales-savvy? No problem! Networking isn’t always about attracting new customers or forming lucrative partnerships. As a CEO, it’s a great place to meet other executives and pick their brains. Exchanging ideas, challenges, and insight adds to my toolset as a leader and helps me and my team to prepare for anything that may come.

4. Demonstrate mutual benefit

The key to utilizing local resources is to go about it with a generous spirit: in other words, you get what you give. Mutual benefits are important if you want to make the most of the experience, so make sure to show your appreciation, spread the word about good service, recommend your partners to others, and keep relationship going both ways.

5. Keep it up!

Tapping into local resources is an age-old tactic that helps companies make the most of their communities and give back to them, too. But it’s only the beginning of the opportunities that await. Instead of treating this as a one-and-done, keep finding new resources, strengthening partnerships, and connecting with your community on a greater level. It will be worth it in more ways than one.

Enabling Smooth Leadership Transitions

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

So much of a company’s DNA is shaped by its leadership: the example they set, the culture they enforce, the policies they implement and the way they interact with and treat their fellow associates. As such, when someone in the C-Suite retires and an outsider steps in, it can be quite stressful — unless the transition is a smooth and careful one, that is.

At Pacesetter, where I’ve just been appointed CFO, my predecessor was a family fixture and veteran associate of 34 years. The incomparable Jon Rapaport left big shoes to fill, having shaped the company in more ways than anyone could hope to count. A trailblazer in innovation and legendary problem-solver, Jon’s fingerprints are all over Pacesetter, and his responsibilities spanned multiple departments.

When someone that monumental hands over the reigns, it can’t be an abrupt pass. While I’m very confident in my experience and abilities, the point is to make the transition as smooth as possible so that the company can carry on without setbacks. Jon and the Pacesetter leaders, including the CEO, Aviva Leebow Wolmer, made this transition smoother than I could have hoped for. Now, Jon can retire with confidence in his legacy, and I can begin my journey with conviction.

Leadership transitions are not uncommon, but they are very important to get right. Here’s some advice on enabling smooth transitions from my experience and research.

Analyzing the circumstances

Leadership transitions could be needed for a variety of reasons, and depending on the circumstances, the steps you take to find and integrate a new leader will be different. For example, if a CEO is being replaced because they’ve taken the company in the wrong direction, the next step will be different than, for example, what might follow a CEO’s retirement.

When it’s time for a transition, then, companies need to analyze the situation and ask the right questions before moving forward. Are we looking for a totally new direction, or someone who will pick up where their predecessor left off? It’s not necessarily always one or the other; often, transitions present an opportunity to find a leader that brings new skills to the table while also sharing the company’s values.

Finding the right fit

There are many ways to find the right fit when an opening crops up. Sometimes, it’s a good opportunity to promote from within. Pacesetter is an advocate of this strategy in many cases.

That said, there are many good reasons to bring in an outsider, especially in positions of leadership. You’ll want someone with leadership experience, ideally in the same industry or similar. You’ll also want someone who shares the company’s beliefs and will be a good culture fit.

As it happens, Pacesetter used a great tech tool called BestWork Data to find me. Instead of acting as a candidate filter like an APS, this tool helped identify gaps and find out how I, the candidate, would get along with the rest of the team. Whether or not you use tech to help, these are important things to keep in mind.

Pacesetter chose me for numerous reasons, including my experience as CFO in the manufacturing industry, and the virtues on company culture I have extolled in my career. All of these are considerations that must be made when making a new leadership hire, as they will influence the company’s path forward.  

Work together, and take your time

Perhaps most importantly, it’s helpful, if not vital, when the predecessor takes time to work with a new appointment and train them on the various aspects of the company and job. This works best if the leader that’s stepping down gives ample notice in order to work alongside others to pass on knowledge to the new hire.

I was extremely lucky to be trained by Jon, Aviva, and the team. While I don’t doubt there are other ways knowledge can be passed along, working with him really demonstrated the nuances of the role and its relationship to the rest of the company. While there’s a case to be made for being thrown right into the fire, I truly believe that an attentive and cautious transition ensures things are smoother all around.

Be prepared and provide support

Lastly, no matter how slow and smooth the transition, companies should be prepared for a few hiccups when the transition is through. The best way to prepare for this is to have a support system that the new hire can take advantage while they get used to the job.

Already, I feel incredibly supported by the Pacesetter team. Whether there are hiccups or not as I take the reins, I feel grateful for the help I’ve had so far and confident that there will be much more along the way, if and when it’s needed. After all, healthy teams support each other and help the company thrive. That’s what I’m most excited about at Pacesetter, and as I embark on this new opportunity, I’m thrilled to fill Jon’s shoes to the best of my ability.  

Preparing for Retirement and Passing on the Reins

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

When you spend your life dedicated to your work, it’s difficult to imagine what the days will be like when at long last, you are able to retire. It’s definitely an exciting time, but also bittersweet. Leaving the workforce means saying goodbye to many of your responsibilities, getting used to not seeing your associates every day, and passing on the reins to someone new.

I’m feeling all of these emotions and more as I prepare to officially retire, leaving my position as CFO at Pacesetter, a job that has meant so much to me for the past 34 years.

I’ll admit, I feel blessed. Some people don’t have the opportunity to retire at my age, or at all. Others leave their companies unprepared to deal with their absence. While I know the team at Pacesetter will miss me, I’m also confident that they are prepared to keep innovating and moving the steel industry forward without me.

As someone who has reached retirement under what I consider to be ideal circumstances, I feel that it’s my duty to pass on what wisdom I have to younger associates still saving up to retire, and older associates getting close to this great milestone. Here are a few pointers that make the road to retirement smooth and attainable.

1. Start saving early on

The importance of saving money early on can’t be overstated. I know that young people hear this all the time, and that for too many, there’s not much to save between loans, bills, and other expenses. Save anyway, and as soon as you’re able, because it’s better to save a little than nothing at all.

If you have a job with a 401k, this is a great start. Contribute as much as you can. If your employer provides matching contributions, be sure to contribute enough to get the maximum match. While needing reform to remain viable, you are already contributing to Social Security which will provide monthly benefits after you reach your retirement age. However, Social Security alone will not be enough. There’s no time like the present to save much as you can afford. Whatever your situation, it’s worth talking to a certified financial planner to come up with a plan that works for you.

2. Budget for today and tomorrow

Retirement plans, 401ks, and Roth IRAs are great ways to save money that will accrue in value without your ever having to touch it. But just because you have a solid plan doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stick to some sort of budget throughout your adult life.

This means being responsible with your money and paying attention to your debt. You don’t necessarily have to live a frugal life, simply one within your means. Many of us overestimate exactly what our means are, and end up spending more than we can afford. The better educated you are with your finances, and the more you can adhere to some sort of budget, the more money you can carry over into retirement when the income from work stops flowing.

Budgeting also helps us save in the present day to make those big and necessary expenses without feeling too squeezed. This doesn’t mean you can’t splurge, or that you have to sacrifice personal joys in the present just to be stable later on. Because odds are, if you aren’t enjoying your personal life while you’re working, retirement won’t be much better—no matter how much you’ve saved.

3. Prepare with your employer

Your employer can be a huge asset as you save for retirement, especially if they offer benefits like enhanced 401ks and/or solid pension plans. When you are looking for job opportunities, whether as a young person or someone mid-to-late-career, remember to keep this in mind! When the time does come for you to retire, you want to be sure your company has helped you reach your goals, and is prepared to move on without you.

Pacesetter offers a 401k plan, which has made a huge difference to me as I head toward retirement. They also worked with me at the right time to find a suitable replacement. As I prepared to leave Pacesetter, I spent time working with those taking over my responsibilities so we were all comfortable that the team would be in great shape when I left. Passing on the reins to our new CFO has been an honor. As my retirement approaches, I feel grateful for all Pacesetter has given me and confident in the company’s future.

4. Remember, retirement is not the end

Lastly, some people retire and miss work, or have literally no idea what to do with their lives once they are done. My advice is never to sacrifice personal life while working—always make time for your family, friends, and hobbies, because when you retire that’s what will be waiting for you. Pacesetter has been a great workplace in this regard, because the company is very understanding of personal responsibilities and has a number of family-focused benefits and initiatives.

Think of retirement not as an end, but a continuation of some of the most enriching parts of your life. It’s also a new opportunity for you to try new things: travel, learn by taking classes, write a memoir, join a dance class, you name it. I know that as much as I will miss Pacesetter, I will always be part of the family.

The Past, Present, and Future of Steel in the Construction Industry

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

Steel is the world’s most trusted material, so it’s no wonder so many buildings and infrastructure are built with it. That’s right: the majority of steel goes into the construction industry, mainly because steel structures are strong, sustainable, and can be built quickly at a low price.

Steel’s flexibility and versatility also means that designers, developers and architects can use it in any number of ways to turn their visions into a reality. This has been the case for centuries, though the ways in which we use steel have changed, and in the future, the construction industry will certainly be disrupted, or evolve at the very least.

Here, I’ll detail the past and present of steel’s use in construction, and outline what the industry’s future could mean for our product.

A History of Steel Buildings

Though iron has been around for centuries, its usage in construction is more modern than you might think. It began around the Industrial Revolution, which was characterized by mass production and the development of new materials, modern steel included.

One of the first major uses of steel for construction purposes was in train stations. After the usage there proved profitable, its use expanded to include churches, private buildings, and more. In the late 1800s, the first steel-framed buildings and skyscrapers emerged.

Steel building became popular in the early 20th century, and became widespread around WWII, during which it was used for military shelters and oil storage. After the war, steel was more readily available and became the universal standard. Some of the most iconic landmarks, like the Empire State Building, were erected with steel as a main construction element.

At the end of the 20th century, advanced steel production enabled railroad construction across the world, expanding new frontiers in remote locations.

Steel in Construction Today

If you have ever been in construction or have decided to build your own home, you may have noticed just how many steel products go into a residential building. Steel is used in the foundation, HVAC, electrical panels, appliances, decking, and hardware/brackets, just to name a few. There are so many different uses for steel in a residential home alone. So, you can imagine how many other types of steel products go into a commercial application.

That is why steel has reigned supreme in construction for over a century. It’s used today for every building application imaginable, and has become even more versatile in usage. It can be combined with other construction materials, like glass, and cold-rolled and galvanized flat products that have high-elastic limits, toughness, and weldability.

Things have changed in the industry over time. For one, steel is no longer a labor-intensive industry, which initially resulted in cuts in the workforce. International markets are also more competitive, with a majority of steel being produced in China, Japan, and India.

As it is 100% recyclable, yesterday’s steel buildings have been used to build the structures of today, while today’s steel buildings will almost certainly be recycled into the buildings of tomorrow. That said, given the durability of steel structures and the efficacy of future-proofing methodologies, it could take a while before tomorrow arrives.

Steel’s Future in Construction

At Pacesetter, we are always taking emerging trends into account as we continue to produce and distribute quality flat-rolled steel products. It is our belief that steel’s longevity, versatility, and sustainability will only lead to more applications in construction, not less.

That said, there are a number of exciting new trends in the construction industry that will likely impact the steel market in some capacity. Due to the emerging era of tech and connectivity, the steel industry has already begun adopting novel steel modular frame systems for use on construction sites.

Ultimately, steel is well-suited for modular construction, which will become more common as building information modeling, spurred by new technology, advances. Newer materials like graphene, though fascinating, are unlikely to eclipse steel soon.

Lastly, assuming human aspirations continue on their current trajectory, the need for steel in construction will only expand as continued need for solid infrastructure does. With populations growing and cities expanding, demand will only continue to climb.

team pacesetter Incentivizing Associate Productivity

Incentivizing Associate Productivity

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

Corri Green Executive Assistant to CEO

At Pacesetter, we believe productivity is more than just an abstraction—it’s the hard work associates put in every day, and as such is indicative of a healthy, collaborative workplace.

Everyone is productive to some extent; companies typically do their best to maximize productivity in the workplace to get the most out of their teams. But telling your associates to work harder isn’t enough to yield consistent, quality outcomes at the rate you demand. Productivity has to be incentivized, not demanded.

Here are a few ideas around incentivizing associate productivity.

1. Treat your team like a family

Pacesetter is at its heart a family business, and as such we care about our associates and their families. More importantly, we treat the workplace like a family—this develops trust and bonding among team members, we win or lose as a team and we all take the success of Pacesetter personally.

2. Think outside the work box

They say you get what you give, and when it comes to work it’s definitely true. Companies that expect quality work without giving anything in return may be in for poor output. Competitive salaries are a great way to start, but incentives don’t have to be just financial. By thinking outside of work and prioritizing your associates’ wellness, their comfort, their entertainment, and their community, you feed their soul and imagination, too.

Giving to associates in ways not totally related to work boosts morale—think company events, benefits, recognition programs and other initiatives designed to treat your team well. It’s been proven time and time again that a happy workforce is a productive one, so I think you’ll find it’s worth the extra effort.

At Pacesetter, we also offer flexible work schedules and a summer hours program. It may seem counterintuitive, but providing flexibility improves productivity because associates can get some relief when they need it, and work hard whenever they are on the clock.

3. Invite everyone’s ideas and input

It takes more than gestures to incentivize a team. They need to not just feel, but know that their voices are heard. Motivated teams are almost always comprised of individuals that value one another’s thoughts and ideas—this way everyone is working toward common goals, and everyone has a stake in the outcome.

So elicit ideas from associates at all levels. Hold meetings or huddles to brainstorm, and take the time not just listen, but act based on what you hear. It’s easier to be productive when you know you shaped the process in some form.

At Pacesetter, associates are encouraged to present their ideas to not only their manager, but to other areas of the company as well. All levels of associates can lead projects and initiatives that are presented to the executive leadership team.

4. Appreciation is key

Lastly, appreciation may be the most important incentive you can offer to your associates. When an individual or team is recognized for their great work, after all, they are far more likely to keep it up than they would be if it fell by the wayside.

Employee of the month programs and weekly “shout outs” are one way many companies recognize their associates’ contributions.

At Pacesetter, we also hold monthly associate appreciation celebrations, where associates recognize one another for their work, their extra help, collaboration and ideas. Yearly, we recognize one associate from our corporate office and one associate from our service centers who exhibits the behaviours of our Pacesetter Way fundamentals, an award that is determined by associate votes and considered to be the highest honor of recognition at Pacesetter. In addition, we give out a Community Involvement award to the associate who has devoted time, effort and leadership to serving and advocating for others. This includes a donation to the charity of their choice.

In the end, a team that lifts each other up, treats each other well, and has each other’s backs is a more productive team. We’ve found that to be true at Pacesetter, and think you will too.

newest-female-ceo-aviva-leebow-wolmer

Creating a Family-Focused Culture

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

“We are family; I got all my sisters with me.
We are family; get up everybody and sing.”

I know that you are all singing it as you’re reading it. So back in 1979, Sister Sledge sang about the value of family. “We are Family” went Gold, becoming the number one R&B and number two pop song that year. Their song talks about the unity and strength of families. Flash forward to 2017, and those are the same things that I value. My immediate family is made up of my husband (of 21 years), my almost 17 year old son (who knows everything) and a 13 year old daughter (who is just starting the eye rolling thing). As you could probably guess my family life is very busy and quite challenging at times.

Whoever you call family are likely some of the most important people in your life.

Pacesetter gets that, and it’s why we work so hard to create a family-focused culture that fuses work and life in a balanced way. It shows our associates and co-workers how much we value them, and their families!

pacesetter-steel-team-members

This is evident at all levels of our company, and it’s paid off by making this a great place to work—as demonstrated by the length of time people stay with us. We have many associates that have celebrated 20+ years!!

Our family-focused culture is a big reason people want to be part of our team. Here are three ways we build that culture.

We start with the basics, annual events

One way we like to engage our associates and their families is our annual Holiday party. Whether we are playing games or riding roller coasters at Six Flags, taking the time to get to know each other is so important.

It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, black-tie event, although some of our associates were lucky enough to recently take a trip across-the-pond to attend the Platt’s Global Metal Awards in London.

VP of Procurement Gary Roberts and his wife.

In fact, at Pacesetter we try to celebrate something each month. Whether it is giving out roses to all our mothers on Mother’s Day or providing doughnuts and playing silly games on National Doughnut Day. These small things go a long way in showing how much our associates are appreciated.

We make sure our work space works– for all associates

Just like each member of your family has different hobbies or just like different things, not every associate has the same wants and needs.

That’s why Pacesetter listens to its associates to help provide an environment that’s an extension of their home. For example, we have a gym and a library. Also, there are many associates who enjoy bird watching so we were able to purchase binoculars and some great books on birds found in Georgia.

Headquarters--Pacesetter_interiors-fitness

Of course, everyone’s got to eat and sharing a meal is a great way to bring people together. Our Steel City diner gives our team members a place to get together and get to know each other over lunch or a quick snack. Also, this is where we have our monthly Associate Recognition. Here we gather to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and recognize the efforts of our teammates.

Headquarters--Pacesetter_Steel-City

We get creative and are always open to ideas

This year, we hosted prom photos for our associates and their children at our headquarters in Kennesaw, GA. It was a lot of fun, and something that we’d never have thought of a generation ago. Not only were we able to help our associates create lasting memories, we were proud that our office provided a beautiful backdrop to the photos!

There are some traditions that have been part of our family-focus for years. For instance, we give out turkeys every Thanksgiving for families to enjoy. We started doing this in the early 90’s.

Often, our ideas start with an associate, or several, throwing out a suggestion or writing it on our Vision Board and then the team working together to make it happen. We love it when our new associates contribute fresh ideas. For the first time we had a Leprechaun Trap contest on St. Patrick’s Day. If you do not know what a Leprechaun Trap is, you must look it up. So much fun and creativity!

Annual events, flexing the work space to meet a variety of needs and having fun with new ideas will help build a corporate culture that’s truly family-focused. Pacesetter has truly made the culture of our office a home away from home.

pacesetter-steel-news

What Everyone Should Know About The Global Steel Market

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

Whether you install HVAC ducting for a living, eat with stainless steel silverware, or depend on your car’s exhaust system to safely get you where you need to go, you use steel on a daily basis. You might not think much about where this steel comes from or how it impacts the rest of the world. But since it’s a much-needed commodity, steel is actually a lucrative export that drives economies around the world.

That said, the world’s steel industry has undergone changes over the last few decades. Instead of using American, European, or Japanese produced steel, chances are that much of the steel you use on a daily basis comes from China, which has been the world’s top steel producer for the last several years.

How the Steel Industry Helps the World’s Economy

Before we consider China specifically, let’s consider how and why steel drives the global economy. On its own, the steel industry directly employs over 2 million people across the world. Indirectly, it employs over 50 million people. Steel is a key component of the power, automotive, transport, and construction industries, among others. While the United States and the European Union are still among the top steel producers worldwide, China has become the top producer. Countries like Turkey, India, Brazil, and South Korea entered the top ten list of steel producing countries as they became more industrialized.

Steel isn’t just at the core of multiple economies though. It’s also one of the mainstays of the world’s green economy. Most renewable energy systems require steel to function, including solar panels and wind turbines. Plus, steel is one of the world’s most recyclable materials. On average, 83% of the world’s steel can be recovered. Just as importantly, the energy steel manufacturers expend to produce their product has decreased by 50%, which has made steel production a more energy efficient process.

The Rise and Fall of the Chinese Steel Industry

Until around 30 years ago, most of the steel you used probably came from European Union affiliated countries, the United States, or Japan. More recently, Chinese steel has started to take over the market, creating a few problems along the way. Pre-1949, Chinese steel development wasn’t very high. In the early years of communist rule, China’s steel production continued to lag behind that of Western countries. When the country started incorporating capitalist reforms in the late 1980s, various Chinese industries expanded to conquer the world market, including the steel industry.

Unlike many other steel-producing countries, China’s steel industry is both massive and state-owned. The central government subsidizes many steel mills, and local governments often have a stake in steel production as well. For decades, these large, state-owned steel corporations have produced massive amounts of steel, flooding the market with cheaper products as hundreds of mills within China compete with each other as well as mills around the world. In the last few years, due to oversaturation, China’s steel industry seems to finally have peaked and flattened out.

Now, many state-owned mills are facing bankruptcy. We are still unsure about the effect this will have on the global market. Bankruptcies will certainly reduce China’s steel output while some Chinese mills, like the provincially owned Hebei Iron & Steel, are relocating to places like South Africa.

End Use Markets

Along with being a widely-traded commodity, steel is also consumed in many end use markets. Based on available estimates, half of the steel produced globally is used in the building and infrastructure sector, which includes housing, rail, bridge, and green energy construction. The mechanical equipment and automotive sectors together account for roughly 30 percent of steel demand, followed by metal products (consisting of consumer and other goods) and other transport (including shipbuilding and trains).

More Steel facts:

  1. Steel is the main material used in delivering renewable energy – solar, tidal and wind.
  2. All steel created as long ago as 150 years can be recycled and used in new products and applications, without any loss of strength.
  3. New lightweight steel is dramatically changing the market. In 1937, 83,000 tons of steel were needed to build the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Today, only half of that amount would be required.
  4. The global steel industry spends more than $12 billion annually on improving the manufacturing process, new product development and future breakthrough technology.
  5. Approximately 25% of an average computer is made of steel. More than 332 million PCs were sold in 2014.
  6. 97% of steel by-products can be reused. Millions of tons of iron and steel are diverted from the waste stream to the recycling stream due to steel’s magnetic properties that make it the easiest material to separate from the solid waste stream.
  7. Steel is roughly 1000 times stronger than iron in its purest form.

To conclude, all steel comes from somewhere — and serves a purpose almost everywhere. Your car, the heating and cooling in your house, your washer and dryer, your swimming pool, or maybe even the building you work in were most likely made from steel. Due to its extreme recyclability, could have been made from past steel products that were first melted decades ago. Steel is the original “green” industry and its cost is still an excellent value, on a per pound basis cheaper than bananas on sale at your grocery store.

Whether it’s from China, Europe, or here at home, steel will always be part of a larger, global market that is constantly in flux. Luckily, steel itself is incredibly rigid even if and when the market is not.

All About Stainless Steel

By | News, Your Advantage | No Comments

One of the amazing things about steel is all of the forms and qualities it can take on. Of these, stainless steel is incredibly popular due to its corrosion resistance combined with its strength and formability. At Pacesetter, stainless steel is one of the major products we process and distribute. As such, it’s a product we know a lot about, and seek to educate our partners on as well.

So, what is stainless steel? By definition, it is a low-carbon steel that contains chromium at 10.5% or more by weight. This chromium addition gives stainless steel its corrosion-resistant properties. Chromium contents are also what allow the formation of the steel’s stainless film, a rough adherent oxide. Provided oxygen is present, this film is self-healing, adding additional value to stainless steel products.

Stainless steel is named for the simple fact that it does not stain, corrode or rust like ordinary steel thanks to its protective film.

Other elements including nickel and molybdenum may be added to produce stainless steel, but chromium’s inclusion is the defining factor. With 60 grades of stainless steel and five major groups, the grade of stainless steel to specify depends on the type of environment the alloy must endure, and the inclusion and quantities of other elements in the material.

Flat-rolled stainless steel can be finished in a variety of ways according to our customers’ aesthetic and functional needs, from mirror finishes to brushed, coarse, or heat-colored finishes.

Stainless steel’s history

Several corrosion-resistant iron artifacts have survived from history, indicating that similar metals were developed as early as 400 AD. In these artifacts, however, it was not chromium but phosphorus used to improve durability and allow objects like the Iron Pillar of Delhi to weather the test of time.

The corrosion-resistant quality of chromium in steel was first noted by the French metallurgist Pierre Berthier in 1821, but the products of the time were too brittle to be used practically. The credit for stainless steel’s invention typically goes to Harry Brearley of Sheffield, UK in 1912. An expert steel analyst and researcher, Brearley developed stainless steel to assist a small arms manufacturer, then later applied this solution to cutlery.

Around the same time, similar industrial developments were taking place in Germany at Krupp Iron Works and in the United States by Christian Dantsizen and Frederick Becket.

Advantages of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel often competes with coated-carbon steels and metals like aluminum, brass, and bronze. Its advantages and benefits include:

  • Corrosion resistant: Lowered alloy grades resist corrosion in atmospheric and wet environments, while higher grades resist corrosion in acidic environments or chlorine-bearing conditions.
  • Fire and heat resistant: High-chromium and nickel-grade alloys retain their strength at high temperatures, resisting scaling.
  • Hygienic: Stainless steel is easy to clean, making it the ideal choice for hospitals, dining establishments, and food processing plants.
  • Longevity: Because stainless steel is passive (self-healing/renewing) and tenacious (very resistant to scratching/abrasion), stainless steel leads to savings on maintenance and a longer service life.
  • Recyclability: Like other steel products, stainless steel is 100% recyclable. In fact, very little “new” stainless is produced today as almost all stainless steel begins its manufacturing process as scrap.

Applications

Stainless steel is used for a wide range of applications. In architecture, it was an art deco staple that remains durable thanks to its stainless properties, while today it’s popular for cladding and reinforcement. The same goes for bridges, monuments, and sculptures. In locomotion, stainless steel has been used for automobiles (mainly for exhaust systems, converters, and structural purposes), passenger rail cars and even airplanes (though it’s been surpassed by aluminum for weight reasons).

In medicine, stainless steel often comprises medical and surgical tools and implants for its hygienic properties and easy sterilization. For similar reasons, stainless steel is popular in the culinary field, where it’s used to make cutlery, appliances like sinks and refrigerators, as well as bake and cookware. Large amounts of stainless steel are also used for food production and storage.

There is also a market for pumping and storing oils, acids, and gases, and for the nuclear industry. Stainless steel is also used for jewelry like watches, or for firearms, as its inventor originally intended.

It’s as clear as stainless steel’s surface that this material is a great one. At Pacesetter, we offer quality flat-rolled stainless steel, finished to the exact specifications of our customers’ needs, and expect it to retain its popularity (and shine) for quite some time.