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Preparing for Retirement and Passing on the Reigns

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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 reigns 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

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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.

Excelling at Interviews: It’s the Little Things

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Associate Contributor (13)

Interviewing for a new position at a new company can be a daunting experience, no matter what your experience level. After all, it’s in the interview stage when a company decides whether or not you’re a good fit, and vice versa. If you really want the job (and want the job to want you, too), there are a number of details that can make the difference between employment and unemployment.

I was recently hired at Pacesetter, and their interview process was one of the more thorough and personal I’ve gone through. In fact, CEO Aviva Leebow Wolmer has written about this process here.

As an interviewee that wants to excel, what should you do? From someone who has been there, here are a few pointers that could help you land the position you seek.

Look the part

They say “dress for the job you want” and though this may seem like shallow advice, it matters… because, as they also say, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Being clean, professional, and authentic is the best way to express who you are while also conveying that you care about how you are perceived by others.

Remember, depending on the job, the dress code may vary. Erring on the side of professionalism is always a good thing, but if you’re interviewing for a startup that you know has a casual culture, you should probably opt for something more easygoing than a full suit.

Think outside the box

Doing research on your company, its leadership and reputation are basic musts for every job-seeker. But you can and should do more than the bare minimum, and expect to be challenged during the interview. Remember, interviews aren’t quizzes with right and wrong answers — they are opportunities to delve into your qualifications and the company’s expectations. Be prepared to think on your feet to answer unusual or creative questions, because you never know what will be thrown your way.

Allowing yourself to think outside the box means staying confident and good natured instead of letting stress get the better of you. If you are relaxed and amiable, that’s the first step to being able.

Come prepared with questions

While you should try to impress your potential employer, remember that they have to impress you, too. A good fit must go both ways, so come prepared to interview them as well. Do they have the benefits and the salary you require? What is the culture like? If you have a great idea of your own needs, you’ll be able to tailor your questions to fill any gaps the initial interview doesn’t cover.

It’s not a bad to get creative here either; if the interviewer challenged you, it’s fine to do the same. This will also give the interviewer an idea of how you will be as an associate — curiosity is a great trait to convey in this critical stage.

Follow up

Lastly, after you’ve made your impression, showed off your skills, and learned everything you need to know about the position, don’t forget to follow up! Send an email out thanking each of your interviewers for taking the time to speak with you, reiterating your hopes for the outcome, and putting the ball back in their court. This will almost certainly give you an edge over other candidates who fail to do the same.

I sincerely hope that by heeding these details, you have the confidence and knowledge to secure the position you want.

How Salespeople Can Build Strategic Business Models

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Associate Contributor (12)

People who want to start, run, and/or operate a business are always advised to have a business plan. It’s no different for maximum performing sales people, who know what is needed, and what has to happen for their efforts to result in success.

Great salespeople create successful strategic business models, which are supported by the resources required to succeed. In my many years of experience, I’ve experimented with tactics, built numerous strategies, tested my plans, and evaluated how my execution has contributed to my continuously-changing “Business Plan” skill set.

Let’s walk through some key areas of business model components that have helped me create my plans.

You want to develop a plan that can be built to respond to your target customers and current customers’ interests. To build a smart plan your goals need to be realistic and allow continual positive change to occur. What we need, then, is a smart plan that works for you and your targets.

My plans are structured from seeing the end goal first and working backward to build process drivers that are easy to modify as changes occur. I always try to work in a straight line, even though at any time the unexpected can force me to flex in order to achieve my goal.

While visualizing my desired results, I focus on customer receptivity. We all know each customer is different, has different needs, buying tactics, and priorities. Therefore, during the visualization process in building my plan, I include the following six areas while considering customer receptivity:

  • What is important to them, their company, and the goals of their organization?
  • What present objectives that can be measurably judged, especially in new business development where there are incumbents, and mature relationships?
  • In order to influence, I illustrate other meaningful measurable opportunities not currently available to the target to gain actionable interest?
  • Always focus on confidence without arrogance.
  • Maintain logic and emotional balance.
  • Buyers will be more inclined to acknowledge credibility, and will buy on preparation, and not ego. Customers do not usually like change or have the time to change, and if held accountable would prefer not to be bothered. Don’t let an opportunity go and not ask direct questions: for example, where is the company going, and how are you going to be part of getting there?

The goal is to develop a good plan that is flexible when needed, and one that can be tested and executed with preparation. As a recap, the three primary steps to build such a business model are:

1. Thinking backwards.

You can challenge yourself to do so two different ways: Detail to Concept – Decide what tactics are needed and what has to happen to reach your goal. Concept to Detail – Define the “Big Picture” structure.

My business plans always include my vision, the mission, and what values can be illustrated that will produce actionable interest.

2. Know your industry.

It’s important to have current knowledge of your industry and understand the external environment. Examples of key areas include but are not limited to key trends, industry, market, and economic forces which can be used to create new opportunities.

If my plan includes summarizing or illustrating my company’s competitive advantages, I have to know these things.

3. Last, consider what the business books call Risk Analysis.

While visualizing a plan, undoubtedly you will be thinking about limiting factors, known and unknown obstacles, critical success factors, specific risk factors, and which countermeasures can be throw down when confronted with an obstacle.

If you take all of the information out there related to building a business model, a business, or a strategy, you can boil it down to four primary areas. For me those four areas are:

  • Strategy
  • Structure
  • Process
  • Reward

The last of these is undoubtedly the most important.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you and your organization are looking for more from a supplier. I will be happy to exchange ideas and collaborate in way to meet or exceed your needs.

6 Common Steel Defects Encountered During Quality Assurance

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Associate Contributor (10)

The world runs on steel. As a key element in transportation, construction, appliances, and many types of infrastructure, we all rely on steel’s strength and security under pressure. That’s why it’s vital that all steel products are, to the greatest extent possible, defect-free.

Whether you’re dealing with steel on the supply or buy-side, it’s important to be able to spot product defects, identify them with proper terminology, and understand how to resolve them. At Pacesetter, where we are heavily involved in both steel processing and distribution, understanding defects helps to fix and resolve them.

In a perfect world, there would be zero defects in steel. In the real world, however, with the myriad of steelmaking processes, raw material inputs, numerous finishing lines, and various grades and thicknesses, some imperfections are bound to occur.

Finding, quarantining, and reporting defects helps assure that products are up to the standard our customers and partners expect from us, and keeps the manufacturing world running smoothly. For this reason, quality assurance is a top priority for Pacesetter.

So what are steel defects, how do they occur, and what’s the proper way to address them? When you work with steel day-in and day-out, this information is a necessity. Our associates are incredibly well trained in this regard, so our customers can be confident in the product quality and the many minds and hands that ensure it.

Here are some common flat-roll steel defects we watch out for.

Bare Spots (Galvanized/Coated)

Bare spots result when coating fails to adhere, leaving the substrate exposed. They can be caused by carbon, smut, or grease deposits on the strip being coated, or by roll pickup of foreign material.

Bruises/Roll Marks

Roll marks and/or bruises are typically indented (occasionally raised), and often have a repeating pattern. Handling damage bruises repeat at ID or OD, then fade out and change slightly in repeat distance as the coil pays off. The repeat distance and pattern gives clues about the defect’s root cause. On repeating roll marks, the distance from mark to mark gives a clue as to which roll (at the mill or processing line) induced the mark.

Buckle

A buckle is a series of waves, usually transverse to rolling direction, varying in severity and frequency. A buckle can be called a “center buckle” on the middle of strip, a “quarter buckle” on the quarters, or a “side buckle” when it is located near edge. The sides can be relatively flat (not an edge wave, which we’ll get to in a moment).

Dross (on Galvanized Strip)

Dross is signified by zinc streaks on a hot dip strip, and dross pick-up can result from contaminants picked up in the zinc pot. Dross is a raised type defect.

Edge Wave

Edge wave is a shape phenomenon caused by the coils’ edges being longer (in the rolling direction) than the center section of coil. Due to the crown in flat-roll coil, if the edges are longer lineally than the center of the strip, that extra length manifests itself as edge wave.

Pinchers

Pinchers are fern-like or feathery looking ripples or creases that are diagonal to rolling direction.
Most often, pinchers are light and cannot be felt.

These are just a few common defects to look for when inspecting flat steel products for quality assurance. The more we know about defects, the better at reporting and preventing them we become, meaning better quality—and a more smoothly-run world—all around.

Social Media: the New Networking

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Associate Contributor (10)

Social media is more than just a trend, or something teenagers use to share gossip and memes. It’s a legitimate, and increasingly critical business tool. Where networking events were once the best means for companies to promote themselves, the Internet has blown that idea wide open.

Where networking was confined to four walls and a limited capacity, social media offers countless channels and infinite reach. If that sounds enticing, that’s because the opportunities are that juicy. On the other hand, social media isn’t cake. It takes hard work, a smart marketing team, and strategy.

At Pacesetter Steel, we decided that launching active social media profiles would be in our best interest—something that may have initially seemed counterintuitive for an antiquated industry like steel. Bringing traditional elements into a digital space actually gives us a competitive advantage, and is a great way to connect with industry insiders across the country.

Here are a few reasons you should consider upping your social media game.

1. Stay ahead of industry trends

If you want your business to grow and thrive, market insight is key. Social media is all about what is happening now, what is trending, what is or isn’t garnering interest, and tracking all of the above and more in real time. By managing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, your company hooks into the pulse of the Internet, and all of the data it harnesses. This is beyond valuable when it comes to marketing your products and services and forming new connections.

Now, I know that the above sounds like a glorified search engine, so let me make my case:

I understand that social media gets a bad reputation. However, most don’t realize that sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are filled with like-minded professionals and budding thought leaders ready to learn from, engage with, exchange, and share your content with others. Connecting with those key influencers will truly get your hands on the pulse of industry trends.

2. Give your business an online footprint

Your business might have a great presence in its neighborhood, city, or even state. But online presence is increasingly important, especially as more people turn to the internet for information, whether it’s on where to do business, what to buy, or where to work. Social media allows you to tell your story, establish a voice of trust, and become a resource for Googlers and Tweeters near and far. Even better, it facilitates conversation, education, and can convert readers into loyal followers.

Owning online real estate is just as critical as any physical space, and of course, the richer your properties, the more valuable they become (in Googles eyes). By creating, optimizing and managing an online presence, you’re taking one big step forward to owning your online real estate (aka the first page of search results).

My mantra? If your first page of search results can answer any question a current/potential customer, investor, or associate may have, that’s the best (and cheapest) kind of marketing you can get!

3. Recruit new associates, partners, and more

Networking is all about making connections; social networking, facilitated by social media, is the same. It can be a great tool for promoting careers within your company, thereby recruiting new associates, or for finding new customers and business partners you might have never rub shoulders with in real life. White it takes more than a tweet to form a meaningful connection, it can be the catalyst of something great.

It’s also key to engage with your current customers, partners and associates and facilitate conversation between them. Why? When those future associates and partners are researching you, they’re going to trust and rely on an outsiders perspective more than anything. The copy on your website may be descriptive and engaging and the content on your YouTube interactive and relevant, but what your associate tweets about working for your company once will have more weight than all of your perfectly-branded content combined.

These are just a few of many benefits that come with smart social media management and marketing. While at Pacesetter we believe that face-to-face time will never be old fashioned (after all, it takes more than a text to form a relationship), it’s clear that social media as an add-on can lead to growth and opportunity.