Steel Sense

As we enter into the last quarter of 2015 many members of the steel industry are wondering where it is all heading. Some steel makers are considering temporarily idling some facilities in order to adjust to challenging global market conditions.

The Strong Dollar, China’s own internal economic problems, the oil industry being in a holding pattern, Imports continuing  to come into the US at very competitive prices, according to some, at prices below the  costs  to produce here in the US. These are just a few factors that affect the current economic conditions within the steel industry.

Some construction related sectors that utilize long products are helping mills produce more tons over last year, however the increase of imported long products keep the transaction prices lower.

Construction Activity

In speaking with many construction companies throughout the northeast it appears that several of the contractors currently have a respectable backlog. There is speculation that this may carry over into 2016. In addition there are numerous projects being designed and will be put out to bid in early 2016 for construction in the 2016 construction season.

Scrap

In the past two months scrap prices have dropped approximately 20 percent. Some of the contributing factors include lower capacity utilization rates at the mill level, the slowdown in China’s economy, as well as  the  stronger US dollar.

Paired with the upcoming and seasonally slower fourth quarter, 2015 is proving to be the most challenging year for the scrap industry since 2009; some speculate that the perfect storm will be here until the dollar weakens.

U.S. Raw Steel Production

In the week ending October 3, 2015 mills produced 1,727,000 net tons down 0.5 percent from the previous week of 1,735,000 tons. Mills have produced 67,819,000 tons year to date in comparison to 73,727,000 tons down 8 percent from same period in 2014.

As always we will attempt to keep our customers up to date on the latest developments within the steel industry. If we can help explain what’s currently going on in our industry, give our HarMac office a call: 207-935-3531

The Company You Keep

This month’s newsletter is dedicated to relationships.  In business, when we discuss this topic we are usually referring to the relationships we have developed with our customers and vendor partners.  For a company to be successful, the relationships built with our fellow associates must be of equal importance.

The Company You Keep
From left to right: Alan Gould, Gregg Lanouette, Dave Krevonick, Bruce Wardwell, Todd Brewer, Dennis Orozco and Ken Stevens.

Driving up to Vermont this morning to attend a quarterly sales managers meeting, I began thinking about the group of associates I was about to spend a couple of days with.  The purpose of the meeting is to review proposed sales initiatives, share best practices, discuss future sales drivers and talk about issues within each region.

The talent pool among this group is quite deep.  Leading the pack is Gregg Lanouette with 37 years experience followed by Todd Brewer with 30 years, Ken Stevens 29 years, Alan Gould 20 years, Dennis Orozco 14 years and Dave Krevonik 3 years.  This 29 year veteran watches with pride as Steve Zbell (5 years) trains the group on the latest CRM programs.

Tonight, this proud group of sales leaders will raise their glasses high and celebrate the fact that June and July were the two best sales months in the history of A.H. Harris.  The conversations around today’s meeting centered on how do we keep the momentum going.  We discussed more focus in the repair and restoration market, better utilization of our internal resources and strengthening our vendor relationships.  The sales leaders are focused and ready to improve on the last two months’ successes.  I couldn’t think of a stronger unit to lead the sales efforts that will accomplish this feat.

They say a man is judged by the company he keeps.  If this is true, I am one of the luckiest people in the world. Yes, relationships!

Is the Economy Finally Heating Up?

We are in the midst of the summer season with the high temperatures returning to the entire Northeast. Many are commenting that their current work load is relatively strong with positive indicators looking forward for the balance of 2015.

Employment Gains

Residential and Nonresidential construction segments add jobs as the Industry continues to expand.  In May, construction firms added 17,000 jobs bringing the total add of 273,000 over the last 12 months. The construction sector unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest May rate since 2006.

Positive progress has been made on the long term funding for the nation’s highway and transit systems. Many national organizations have sent letters of support for this most important bill to modernize and repair the nation’s infrastructure.

U.S. Raw Steel Production

In the week ending July 25, 2015 mills produced 1,740,000 tons. Mills operated at an average capacity utilization rate of 72.8% in comparison with the same week in 2014 mills produced 1,914,000 tons.at 79.6% rate. Year to date mills have produced 50,487,000 tons, down 7.7 % from the previous year’s production of 54,704,000 tons.

Scrap

Scrap prices over the past three months went up in May and again in June and then dropped in July. The overall scrap price moved up approximately 12.7 percent. Mill published pricing has stayed relatively flat through the past three months.

 

As always we will attempt to keep our customers up to date on the latest developments within the steel industry. If we can help explain what’s currently going on in our industry, give our HarMac office a call: 207-935-3531

Relationships Matter

Kimberly Corwin
Guest post by Kimberly Corwin, A.H. Harris President and Chief Executive Officer

We have all heard it said and said it ourselves: the construction industry is a relationship business.  But what does that mean?   Plain and simple no business will survive without relationships.  To make a profit, there must be sales of a product or service.  To create the product or develop a service, relationships are required with suppliers and investors.  To sell the product, there needs to be a relationship of trust built with the customer.  To manage the business, company leaders and managers must build a relationship with our teams based on trust, respect and understanding.  Our customers, our associates, our investors, our managers, our leaders are all humans.  Humans are complex emotional beings.  No two people are the same.  Everyone has different needs, desires, aspirations, values and expectations.

To create successful relationships it is up to us to discover and leverage these unique variables, build exceptional teams, which create successful companies.  It takes building and managing ongoing relationships to unearth, develop and maximize the talent on our teams and the desires of our customers.  When we focus on managing relationships, we gain strength, which allows us to move ahead of the competition, serve the needs of our customers and achieve our goals.

Underestimating the importance of business relationships equates to underestimating the importance of solid foundations in a building, and will set your business up to stagnate and eventually crumple.

The following are some guidelines we use at A.H. Harris to maintain focus on relationships.

Exceed Expectations

Go Above and Beyond.  Combine top quality service and products with hands-on and attentive service. Make that follow up call.  Double check an order.  When we show we care, we build a rapport, which in turn should create loyalty and long-lasting relationships.

Get Personal

Make the effort to learn about your customers and your associates.  If given the opportunity, break bread together.  It’s nice to work with people who you like both professionally and personally, and it helps in creating long-term bonds.

Just S.I.T.

Stay in touch.  A relationship requires constant attention, even if there is not a big project in the works.  This doesn’t have to be a personal visit, it can be an e-mail, a sharing of an article, a hand written note, a quick call to catch up or a text message.  My sisters and I exchange text messages almost daily, most of the time it’s just a word or an emoji but it makes my day to know they are thinking of me.

Listen

The more we listen to our customers and our teams and demonstrate that we truly value their opinion, the more they’ll support the mission.  Consistently communicate the value of their feedback.  When you get feedback, share it with those who need to know!  (What do I know?  Who needs to know?  Have I told them?)  Continuous improvement is critical for our growth.   When you are at home and a family member (son, daughter, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend) is telling you about their day, listen – put down your phone, newspaper or stop what you are doing and be in the moment.

Bend Rules

I find that being willing to bend the rules is important in maintaining relationships. When something goes wrong we can deliver a lot of extra value by being flexible; putting in an extra hour of overtime, going in on a Saturday, answering that Sunday phone call or e-mail.   It is typically appreciated and it shows we are there for our customers and team members on multiple levels.

Admit when we are wrong

In order to create long lasting relationships the principles of traditional human relationships still apply. This means admitting when we are wrong and even saying, I am sorry!   Sometimes a good old “I am sorry” goes a long way.

Numbers are only part of the equation.  If we can’t get the people around us to support us and our strategy, we will not succeed.

Business is personal and relationships matter.

 

As always I look forward to hearing from you and value your input, kim.corwin@ahharris.com