Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

The Mario Briccetti article entitled: “Steel Buyers Basics: Kobe Steel Problems and How to Avoid Them” prompted a number of comments. The comments all came from other Steel 101 instructors who spent their careers working for steel mills either in sales or in quality/metallurgical positions. We should have an interesting discussion between our instructors at the next Steel 101 workshop, which will be held in Mobile, Ala., in late January, 2018.

Steve Painter called me and wrote me a note regarding his feelings/opinion about the contention made in the article that steel buyers can’t trust their suppliers. “I am a steel veteran salesperson with now over 50 years in our industry…all with domestic steel mills. I take exception that buyers can’t trust their suppliers! That is what business relationships are all about. Without trust in your relationship, you have nothing. Your supplier is your best friend if you are a steel buyer.”

Steve continued, “With steel firms in the distribution business, some of what was written in this article could happen, but my guess is that honesty in this segment of our industry is how most business is conducted. Sales is a respected profession. Those in it need to have the trust that they deserve.”

I hope that everyone who read Mario’s article caught the numerous disclaimers stating that it’s the opinion of Steel Market Update that the domestic steel mills do not and never have falsified testing/certification documents.

At the same time, if you’ve read past articles under Steel Buyers Basics and The Truth About Selling Steel, there have been issues in the service center segment of the industry. Most of those issues are about selling practices (billing methods, thickness of steel versus what was ordered, misrepresentation of coating weights), and I know that at least one of the suspected service centers is no longer in business.

I received a comment from a steel buyer last week who was complaining about a thickness issue with a domestic mill. It appeared the issue was related to “heads and tails” and what is the acceptable industry standard. It is the duty of a steel buyer to make sure they understand what is acceptable according to ASTM practices. To the best of my knowledge, that is what the steel mills adhere to (or they advise they can improve upon the ASTM practice – half thickness tolerances comes to mind as a potential example).

I have asked my Steel 101 instructors to prepare a little more detailed information for our next Steel 101 workshop to make sure our attendees understand ASTM standards, testing, certification and claims. We do have a section already in the program, but it is important to be sure our attendees understand the benefits of proper, up-to-date ASTM standards, as well as the tolerances that are acceptable to the end customer.

Our next Steel 101 workshop is now about 60 percent sold. We still have plenty of seats, but please be aware registrations continue. You can learn more on our website or by contacting our offices at 800-432-3475 or by sending an email to

As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.

John Packard, Publisher

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