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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.


A Guide to Finishing Touches at Pacesetter

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Associate Contributor (9)

As we’ve written about before, the steelmaking process is an extensive one that starts with simple iron ore, goes through extensive heating and filtering, then ultimately becomes a glossy product ready for use and distribution.

The early stages are worth understanding because they represent the genesis of steel. But later stages are just as critical, especially for those of us at Pacesetter whose services specialize in this arena. Our clients and partners come to us for quality flat rolled steel that is processed and finished exactly to their needs.

Finishing touches are customizable to the needs of each customer; at Pacesetter we offer a variety of services that help to meet these requests. Here is an overview of the various finishing touches we provide, and what type of end products our customers can expect.


One important and common type of finishing, for steel, is pre-painting. Why “pre”? Prepainting is more than just a layer or two of Behr on a rod; it’s very specialized coating process by which the metal is cleaned, primed, and painted to exact specifications.

The coating material is more than just decorative, though this is certainly one element of this type of finishing. Beyond aesthetic, the combination of metallic coatings and paint systems aid in corrosion resistance at extremely high levels and can be readily formed without degrading the quality of the paint.

Most coatings are liquid and applied through a process called “coil coating,” which coats steel in large batches. This process can be very cost-effective for fabricators of painted steel products since it requires no in-plant painting thus eliminating the costs of paint facilities.


Embossing is another common finishing touch that may be applied to steel products. Embossing is a stamping process that produces raised or sunken designs in steel products. Any pattern or design can be embossed into steel whether it is coated or uncoated.

It takes the right combination of heat and pressure to emboss steel, depending on the exact type of embossing required. In most cases, a metal sheet is drawn through roller dies, then “ironed” to apply the design onto the metal.

Embossing can be either aesthetic or functional. Aesthetic embossing is mostly decorative, and can be found on to appliances, panels, and trim, while functional embossing improves the product’s use by creating better traction, decreasing friction, or enhancing other performance characteristics.

At Pacesetter, embossing is typically utilized on food casing, restaurant equipment, or other exteriors.


Perforating is a finishing process that punches small holes into a steel product in a specific diameter and pattern. It’s commonly seen on products like speakers or intercom systems.

The perforation process has improved dramatically over the years. Once a laborious process involving painstaking manual work, perforation machines today punch holes more efficiently, typically using a rotary pinned perforation roller. This roller is a large cylinder complete with pointy, sometimes heated needles that poke holes into metal sheets as they rotate beneath it.

Other methods include “die and punch” perforating, which involves the rotational pressing of a large sheet with needles, and laser perforation, which perforates with lasers instead of needles.

At Pacesetter, it’s our honor to provide these services and much more to ensure the finest quality steel products go from our door to yours.


Prioritizing Associate Retention

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Associate Contributor (8)

They say that Americans are job-hopping more than ever, and in some cases this is undoubtedly true. While there’s nothing wrong with changing jobs, I feel fortunate to have found long term satisfaction at Pacesetter. Here, a culture of “growth from within” has provided great value to associates, leaders, and businesses across the board. As a result, talented associates stick around, not only due to the captivating culture, but also the advancement opportunities within the company.

Whether you’re an associate looking for growth in your field or a CEO that wants to retain and cultivate talent within your company, it’s worth knowing more about associate retention and its benefits. While I’m sure the experience is different for everybody, for me, it has meant a lot to be given the opportunity to not just thrive, but excel in my role—all without having to update my resume.

Here are a few things worth knowing about associate retention, how to attain it, and why it’s worth prioritizing.

1. Retention only happens if there is internal growth

So, you want your associates to stick around. Or, like me, you are someone who really likes their job, but also wants to continue to learn and gain new knowledge within your field. The key to retention, then, is not keeping people in the same position for year on end. It’s identifying opportunity for growth from within.

Managers should always pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of their team members, and do what they can to recognize and reward accomplishments with new opportunities. And if you’re an associate, don’t be afraid to ask about promotions and show your interest.

2. Trust and loyalty are key ingredients

Retention won’t happen, period, if associates don’t trust management and vice versa. Loyal team members will go the extra mile, and you can trust them to do their very best and exceed expectations.

Building up trust isn’t easy, but it is critical. A lot of this comes down to a company’s values and culture. Is your business actively supportive of its associates? Do they provide benefits that make you feel valued? If the answer is yes, retention will be infinitely more likely.

3. Continuous training and education is a must

With good intentions, there must come the resources to back them up. Just because an associate is smart and passionate doesn’t mean they have the tools to step into a newer, more advanced role. That’s why internal education and training programs are so important, as well as supporting external education opportunities if an associate shows interest. Identifying strengths is step one, providing an opportunity, step two, and step three is equipping people with the knowledge and abilities they need to succeed.

In conclusion, if retention is to be truly prioritized, it means more than just encouraging associates to stick around. It means incentivizing them and providing the resources they need to advance their career and lives. This, in turn, leads to happier associates, reduces the cost of turnover, and strengthens the relationships that make your business great.


Everything You Need to Know About Making Steel

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Associate Contributor (7)

What does it take to get from raw materials, to molten iron, to beautifully-finished flat-rolled steel?

The life cycle of steel production is an important and extensive one. For those of us in the industry who deal with (or monitor) the process at every step, it’s our duty to understand the ins and outs of steel production. This way, we can confidently ensure the products we’re manufacturing and selling are of the utmost quality.

The following is an outline of how steel is made and what this life cycle means to the industry.

1. Iron ore and coal coking

Steel is an alloy primarily based on iron, but iron only occurs naturally as iron oxide in the earth’s crust. Because of this, the ores must be “converted” or “reduced” using carbon. Carbon is produced after coal is coked and heated.

The coal coking process involves heating metallurgical, or coking, coal to 1000-1100 degrees Celsius in the absence of oxygen, creating hard, porous lumps called coke. The absence of air succeeds in driving off impurities so the remaining carbon is pure. The entire process occurs over 12-36 hours in coke ovens.

The coke is either quenched immediately for storage or transferred directly into a blast furnace for iron-making. In the blast furnace, the coke is combined with iron ore and flux (small quantities of minerals like limestone), which collect more impurities. Heated air (about 1200 degrees Celsius) is blown to burn the coke and produce carbon monoxide, which reacts with the ore and melts the iron. The impurities are then drained, and voila, you have hot metal ready for steelmaking.

2. Steel production

The most common steelmaking process occurs in a Basic Oxygen Furnace and accounts for about 70% of the world’s steel production . There, molten iron ore is combined with steel scrap and more flux. The scrap melts, the flux purifies, and the carbon content is reduced by 90%, resulting in liquid steel. Secondary processes may be applied afterwards, like the addition of elements such as boron or chromium.

Another 29% of the world’s steel production is produced using Electric Arc Furnaces. This process does not involve actual ironmaking; only the re-use of existing steel. These mini-mills run an electrical charge which is supplied when electrodes are placed within the furnace, producing an arc of electricity that melts recycled steel scrap directly into new steel. Fluxes may be used to drain out impurities.

The additional 1% of steelmaking can be accounted for by less common methods like Pulverized Coal Injection.

3. Finished products

Molten iron from production furnaces typically runs through continuous casters and is formed into slabs, blooms, and billets. These basic products are further processed to create even more steel products through various operations such as hot rolling, cold rolling, and hot dip galvanizing

Pacesetter processes flat rolled steel from domestic and offshore mills to provide our customers with galvanized steel, cold rolled steel, galvannealed steel, aluminized steel, stainless steel, and galvanized bonderized steel products.

We provide in-house services including high-speed precision slitting, precision blanking, cut-to-length sheets, along with finishing touches such as pre-painting, embossing, perforating, and fabricating.

Our steel products are used in a large number of industries, and their life cycle does not end there. Since steel is 100% recyclable, many of our products will someday return to the furnace, where they will be melted, produced, and finished all over again. The great beauty of steel is that it is the eternally reincarnated backbone of industry.


How to Tell if Tech Will Help Advance Your Business

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Associate Contributor (6)

Technological innovation has become a core value at Pacesetter, and we have implemented it on all levels to drive efficiency so our services become even better with age.

We’ve found that the implementation of great new tech doesn’t halt or replace traditional processes. It streamlines them, and this in turn increases efficiency, helping out bottom line and that of our partners and clients.

Whether you’re a leader in the manufacturing industry or an associate with bright ideas, it can be difficult to know when technology is worth the upfront investment. Here’s a few pointers to help you determine if technology will advance your business and create value in the long run.

Does it make your business more efficient?

Efficiency should be the number one reason to adopt new technology. But it’s difficult to know off the bat exactly how efficient certain technologies will be, once implemented. This isn’t something you want to take chances, with either. So when considering new technology, do your research. Find others who have used it and evaluate its success. Has it made business more efficient for others in your industry?

Asking this question, researching to determine the answer, and weigh your options are all critical steps to take before implementing new technology, not after.

Does it help your company’s reputation?

Great technology that streamlines business can be a fantastic selling point. You might consider talking to your existing customers about technologies you’re considering, and see if it’s something that they respond to. You might also consider looking into your biggest competitors and see if their tech adoption is giving them an edge. It could be that new technology gives you the edge you need to get ahead, and attract new customers and partners.

Additionally, tech can be utilized on the promotional end. Investing in a great website and social media presence, for example, will help your business (and industry) cultivate an alluring online reputation that accurately reflects the innovations within.

Does it create value for your customers?

Finding ways to use technology to create new solutions that create value for your customer can solidify your relationship. In this connected world we live in, B2B is an ever increasing requirement for businesses to grow. A flexible architecture with regard to both software and hardware is required to support customer or vendor interfacing. Keep in mind each customer is going to have different requirements based on their environment. When considering a B2B solution you need to determine if it is a win/win for both organizations. Typically a successful implementation ensures a strong relationship and provides value to your customer that your competitors do not offer.

Does it help the bottom line?

Another obvious consideration is cost. If technologies cost more than they will save you in the long run, they probably won’t be worth your while. So run the numbers with your financial team. What’s the upfront cost? How much money will improved efficiency save? Will this attract more clients and increase revenue? Will it help your customers’ bottom line, strengthening your business relationships? These are the questions you’ll need to ask in order to make an informed decision.

Does it make things easier or harder for associates?

Lastly, new technology requires some getting used to, so you’ll need to take your associates into consideration before adopting technologies. If learning how to use a new tool makes things harder for your team, it may not be a great investment. At the end of the day, you want to make things easier for your associates and customers, not harder—so the more intuitive the technology is, the better. Whatever the case, keep in mind that some basic training may be necessary, which can be costly as well. I hope that these tips will help your business just like they’ve helped us here at Pacesetter.


The Key Factors That Determine Steel Prices

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Associate Contributor (5)

As a company that both supplies and processes flat-rolled steel, Pacesetter must constantly have a finger on the pulse of the steel market. This means paying attention to factors that influence the price of steel, or are otherwise likely to cause disruption or fluctuation in the market.

Like other commodities, metal prices are always shifting in ways that are critical to the life of our business and those in adjacent industries. So, just as a farmer checks his crops, we rigorously monitor circumstances that impact steel prices.

Some key factors to monitor include:

Supply and Demand

As with any commodity, supply and demand is a huge factor that determines steel prices. The higher the demand, the lower the supply, the higher the price. Or, vice versa: the lower the demand, the higher the supply, the lower the price. You get the picture.

Price of steel is determined not just by current supply and demand, but by forecasted supply and demand. The more information available, the better this can be predicted, and the less volatile prices will be. We must also strive to be aware of inventory in the supply chain in every link from the steel mills to the end-user. Inventory can serve to decouple and mute the supply and demand balance in the short-term.

Industry Trends

Price is also influenced by the demand of the various industries steel is used for. If the auto industry is strong, for example, demand for steel may be higher; the same goes for construction, packaging, and other businesses that rely heavily upon steel. I think we’re all spending a great deal of time recently monitoring total economic growth and policy.

Cost of Materials

Scrap metal and iron ore are two of the main materials used to create steel. If there is a limited amount of these resources available, demand exceeds supply, and the cost of materials will jump up. Pacesetter has a focus on zinc-coated products, and the rising cost of zinc has become an important factor to track. Additionally, tracking energy costs can be an indicator of both market conditions and mill cost structures. It takes a lot of heat to melt steel.

Costs of Shipping

By the same token, materials used to create steel as well as finished goods can be costly to ship, a factor that may help determine price. If shipping overseas, politics could play a role, and the same goes for the cost of labor and fuel. We must also consider the risk and leadtime associated with a given shipping mode. In a volatile steel market, selecting a freight method with a longer transit time can have a huge implication.

Time of Year

Time of year has its effect on many industries, and those that use steel are no different. Holidays, weather, and seasonal highs and lows affect the output of new products, either raising or lowering demand. We’ve also seen how seasonality can impact shipping patterns and transit modes. And with changing demand, of course, comes pricing fluctuations.

It takes a lot of effort to monitor all of these factors, plus many others not listed here. Pacesetter subscribes to and monitors dozens of different news sources and publications, and is constantly engaged in conversation with our customers and suppliers on these topics. The fact that you’re investing time reading our publication indicates this is important to your organization, too. We hope that you’ll keep us in mind as a resource for your steel needs in the future, and trust that we’re keeping your needs in mind with every passing day.


Keeping Your Pipeline Full

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Associate Contributor (3)

My experience in sales has taught me many things: how to ask questions that will evoke the answers I’m looking for, how to make someone truly feel heard, how to deal with rejection, and how to prioritize my tasks and goals. But most importantly, being in sales has taught me a huge lesson in not settling all my efforts on one big sale.

When you settle your sight and focus on one large customer, closing the business is a big win — but afterwards the repercussions of ignoring your pipeline catches up with you. Chasing down that one big sale allowed your pipeline to dry up, and now you’re back at square one with no prospective leads or sales in sight.

If you haven’t heard: the best time to market your business is when it’s in demand. There’s a sort of confidence that comes with your pitch when your company and its services are thriving in its industry. Plus, that success will make you much more marketable to prospective clients.

So, how do you keep your pipeline full while still focusing on closing those big deals?

Don’t Limit Your Resources

Just because cold calls have worked for you for years doesn’t mean that should be the only tool at your disposal. Email lists, newsletter blasts, social media connections, press placements and speaking engagements are just the tip of the iceberg. As industries continue to digitize, sales teams need to equip themselves with all the tools at their disposal.

An added bonus? A lot of these new tools — like newsletter blasts and CRMs — actually end up saving time.

Here at Pacesetter, sales associates have benefited from using our newsletter as an added value to our customers and new prospects. Social events at speaking engagements have also proven to be very productive adding new potential clients into the sales pipeline that have formed new relationships and produced new business for the sales associate.

Be Disciplined

In order to ensure prospecting happens and yields results, you need to create a routine and stick to it. This could be anything from setting aside time every day to prospect for new clients — even if you’re currently working on closing a big one — to getting more granular and defining what that prospecting process actually looks like.

Make sure you create a process and if you stick to it, you will create a good habit that will produce results. The more disciplined you are, the easier that process becomes. Making yourself comfortable and confident in these processes is key to actually feeling good about using them.

Remain Motivated

Say you reach out to a potential lead via email and you don’t hear back — what happens next? Do you move on? Absolutely not.

Prospective leads may need to be contacted through multiple channels — email, cold calls, newsletters, social media — before you finally get a positive response. Staying motivated to close the deal means approaching it from different angles and understanding the best way that prospect can be reached.

One overlooked way to stay motivated? Take a harder look at lost leads. What happened? What could have been done to save that sale? What processes can be put in place to prevent it in the future? Instead of letting the feeling of rejection wash over you and your sales team, turn it into a learning moment.