Steel Products

Making Sense Out of the Chaos – SMU Steel Summit 2018

Written by John Packard

The 2018 SMU Steel Summit Conference is on pace to become the largest conference we have ever hosted. Our conference will be the premium networking event for manufacturers, fabricators, steel distributors, steel mills, trading companies and toll processors, as well as the industries that supply those groups. Based on the current registration rate, we anticipate 800 decision-makers at this year’s event. We would like to spend some time exploring the agenda with you.

Dates, Convention Center, Hotels, Transportation Options

SMU Steel Summit Conference programs will all be held in the Georgia International Convention Center beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 27, and concluding at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 29. The convention center is conveniently located next to the Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and can be accessed via a free SkyTrain, which goes to the convention center and Gateway hotels before stopping at the rental car area.

The Atlanta Airport Marriott Hotel is handling our over-flow as we have sold out the Gateway hotels located next to the convention center. This hotel cannot be reached by the train and those staying there will need to take a cab or Uber to the hotel and then shuttle back and forth to the convention center. SMU has arranged for a bus to move between the hotel and GICC which is about 1 mile away.

Steel Market Update wants to thank our Conference Sponsor: Pacesetter, as well as our Corporate Sponsors: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Crowe and Big River Steel.

Monday, August 27

“Pre-Summit Conference” begins at 1:30 p.m.

Registration will be open in the lobby of the Georgia International Convention Center from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Steel Market Update is continuing with our “Pre-Summit Conference” program. Don’t be fooled, our Pre-Summit program is an integral part of any SMU Steel Summit Conference and should not be missed. In actuality, the conference begins at 1:30 p.m. ET in the Georgia International Convention Center (south side, salons 4-5). This year the entire conference will be held in the GICC building.

1:30-2:15 p.m. – Q&A on Tariffs, Trade and Customs Duties

Answering questions will be trade attorney Lewis Leibowitz of the Law Office of Lewis E. Leibowitz and Jean Kemp, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and Trade Policy for the Steel Manufacturers Association, a trade group supporting the EAF steel mills in North America.

Once again, trade and actions made by the steel mills and the U.S. government are impacting steel supply and creating a tremendous amount of uncertainty for steel buyers in North America. We anticipate questions on Section 232 tariffs, exclusions and quotas, NAFTA and other trade negotiations, circumvention, Section 301 duties and the Section 232 review ordered by President Trump on automobiles and parts.

Our two panelists have the expertise to answer questions you might have on trade, tariffs, exclusions, etc. Lewis Leibowitz has been an active attorney working on behalf of those importing steel and other products into the U.S. Prior to joining the SMA, Jean Kemp spent 14 years as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Industrial Competitiveness at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Jean has led U.S. delegations to the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. She also spent 16 years at the U.S. Department of Commerce administering antidumping and countervailing duty laws. A perfect duo for this very timely subject.

2:15-3:00 p.m. – Digital Transformation of Steel Distribution: Changing the Way Steel is Bought and Sold in the Digital Age

We have an exceptional speaker in Gisbert Ruhl, CEO of Kloeckner & Co. SE, which is the parent company for the Kloeckner service centers here in the United States. Mr. Ruhl will discuss the “digital disruption” project they have been working on for many years and what the future looks like for manufacturing and distribution companies around the world.

3:00-3:15 p.m. – Break Sponsored by Priefert Steel

3:15 -4:00 p.m. – Digital Transformation: How to Begin the Process with Implementation Tools for Your Company

We have another exceptional speaker in CEO Stephen Pratt. SMU was impressed when we spoke to Mr. Pratt on his grasp of “Big Data” and how companies are going to interact and use data in the future. He told us that Excel spreadsheets will be obsolete within just a few years. He will talk about how your company can begin the process, questions to ask and where to go to remain viable in the age of Big Data. is one of the high-tech companies working with Big River Steel as they strive to redefine what it means to be a steel mill in North America.

4:00-5:30 p.m. – Registration Networking Reception: It’s All About Building Relationships. Sponsored by Steel Dynamics. The reception will be held in the GICC in Salons 6-8 (exhibition area)

This is an excellent opportunity to mix and meet with the hundreds of decision-makers who will be attending this year’s conference. We will have close to 350 companies represented from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Poland, England, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The reception will be held just outside of the meeting room where the Pre-Summit Conference program was held. There will be plenty of time for you to make your 6 p.m. or later dinner reservations after attending the reception.

Tuesday, August 28

First Program Begins at 8 a.m. Sharp

Doors open at the GICC at 7:00 a.m. Registration will be open beginning at 7:00 a.m.

Coffee (all day) and pastries will be in Salons 6-8 next to the main conference meeting area.

Coffee sponsored by Magic Coil Products

Pastries sponsors by Alliance Steel, LLC.

8:00-8:30 a.m. Welcome to the 8th SMU Steel Summit Conference

John Packard, President & CEO of Steel Market Update, will kick-off our conference in our normal foot-stomping fashion. The opening of any SMU conference is something not to be missed.

8:30-9:30 a.m. – Keynote Presentation: An Economist’s Perspective on Global & North American Economies

Keith Prather, Managing Director of Armada Corporate Intelligence, will speak for the first time at an SMU conference. He will discuss what the world economies look like and how the Trump administration is shaping the narrative with the renegotiations of various trade deals around the world. This will provide us with a 40,000-foot view of the world from which we can then launch into our steel program.

9:30-9:50 a.m. – Break Sponsored by MidWest Materials, Inc.

9:50-10:50 a.m. – Canada, Mexico, USA and the World: A Steel View

We have assembled an eclectic panel to speak about steel from a global perspective, from a NAFTA perspective, and then from a unique steel trade perspective. Chris Houlden, who is the Research Manager for the CRU Group, is joining us from London and will provide some color on China, Europe and the rest of the steel world as he shares the CRU forecast for outside of North America. We have asked Philip Bell, President of the Steel Manufacturers Association, to discuss how the NAFTA negotiations will impact the steel industry in the NAFTA region with special emphasis on the United States. Paul Lowrey, President of Steel Research Associates, will then try to put trade into a different light as he discusses the amount of steel being imported into the United States in fabricated parts. We believe the insights shared by this panel will kick off some interesting discussions at the break following the panel.

10:50-11:10 a.m. – Break – Sponsored by Red Bud Industries

11:10 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – A Deep Dive on Commodities: Ferrous Scrap, Zinc, Aluminum and Steel

Pete Meyers, Vice President of Ferrous Sales & Marketing for Metalico, will discuss the ferrous scrap markets and perhaps a bit of the disconnect between scrap prices and steel prices. This will be the second time Pete has spoken at an SMU Steel Summit Conference, and he provided some interesting insights the last time he was with us. Lisa Reisman, Co-Founder & Executive Officer for MetalMiner, is joining us again to discuss zinc, aluminum and some of the other metals used within manufacturing. Lisa Reisman does a good job of laying out what companies need to be watching and provides key support levels for metals including steel.

12:00-1:00 p.m. – Lunch – Sponsored by Nucor

Lunch this year will be at the North End of the Georgia International Convention Center (other side of the building).

1:00-2:00 p.m. – The Debate Continues: Steel Industry Forecasts for 2019

For the eighth time, in this our 8th conference, the No. 1 ranked Metals & Mining Analyst, Timna Tanners of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will be joined by John Anton, Senior Principle Economist for IHS Markit, as they present and debate their steel and commodity forecasts for 2019. Who will be right this year?

2:00-2:30 p.m. – What Do You Think? An Opportunity to Interact Using the SMU App

This will be the third year we will use our SMU Events App to poll conference attendees in real time to gather their opinions about key concerns for the industry and the economy. In late August 2016, our attendees correctly predicted the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. What will we learn from our collective wisdom this year? John Packard, President & CEO of Steel Market Update, will lead this interactive program.

Note: The 2018 SMU Events App is expected to be released the week of July 16. If you have downloaded the App from previous conferences, you will not need to download it again. You will be able to log in and click on the 2018 conference link. If you have not downloaded our App, you will want to do so from your phone’s App provider. The SMU Events App will contain the individual attendee names and the complete agenda. You will be able to download speaker presentations through the App after their presentations. Our polling and survey functions along with exhibitor and sponsor information will be contained in the App, as well as connections to social media and more.

2:30-2:50 p.m. – Break – Sponsored by All Metals, Inc.

2:50-4:00 p.m. – Transportation: Dealing with a Priority Issue – Trucking

We have assembled another exceptional panel led off by first-time summit speaker Gregg Troian, President of PGT Trucking, who will lay the foundation for the issues affecting the trucking industry and transportation in general. He will be followed by Rebecca Brewster, President and Chief Operating Officer for the American Transportation Research Institute. Ms. Brewster will be able to discuss government regulations and what the industry is doing to attract more drivers and to deal with government issues. Rebecca Brewster will be followed by another first-time presenter, Mel Kirk, Chief Technology Officer, Dedicated Transportation Solutions for Ryder System, Inc. Ryder is one of the largest owners of trucks in the United States and is heavily involved in developing new transportation solutions from “Uber” trucks to self-driving trucks. Mr. Kirk will offer a look into the future of transportation.

4:00-5:30 p.m. – Networking Reception: Making New Friends and Business Relationships – Sponsored by Heidtman Steel. The reception will be held at the GICC in Salons 6-8 (exhibit area).

Now that we have a full day under our belts, there is no better time and place to continue interacting with new friends, as well as existing business contacts. There is no better venue to meet new people and to develop new business relationships. The suppliers will be there. The manufacturing companies will be there. The distributors will be there. Take some time before running out to dinner. You will be able to make that 6 p.m. dinner reservation in Midtown or downtown Atlanta.

Wednesday, August 29

Program Begins at 8 a.m. Sharp

7:00-8:00 a.m. – Doors Open at GICC – Registration in South Lobby

Coffee and pastries will be in Salons 6-8 (exhibit area)

Coffee (all day) sponsored by Mill Steel Co.

Pastries sponsored by Ratner Steel Supply Co.

8:00-8:15 a.m. – Opening Comments from John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

Steel Market Update is celebrating its 10th Anniversary and this is our 8th SMU Steel Summit Conference.

8:15-9:30 a.m. – Keynote Presentation: Beware the Straight Line

Dr. Alan Beaulieu, President & Principal, ITR Economics, is joining us for the third year and we anticipate his talk will be entertaining, enlightening and full of looks at what your company should be doing now to prepare for the future. Dr. Beaulieu is one of the finest and most interesting economists SMU has ever heard and he is a favorite of past SMU Steel Summit Conference attendees. You will want to plan your morning around his forecast, which you do not want to miss.

9:30-9:50 a.m. – Break – Sponsored by Union Partners

9:50-10:40 a.m. – Nucor Chairman, CEO and President John Ferriola in a One-on-One with SMU President & CEO John Packard

Over the past few years, SMU has conducted one-on-one discussions with steel mill CEOs as a way of bringing to the forefront the issues of the day, while at the same time recognizing and appreciating the individual. SMU is looking forward to Mr. Ferriola sitting down with us to discuss trade, supply and demand, consolidation and maybe a few issues that might surprise attendees. You will not want to miss this discussion.

10:40 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – Manufacturing Forecast: Anything’s Possible, What’s Likely?

Last year our manufacturing panel stole the show and we are bringing together another group of interesting companies and personalities you normally wouldn’t get to see sitting together on the same panel.

Kirk Reich is President and COO for AK Steel, and he will discuss the status of the automotive industry and provide some insights into what 2019 looks like for automobiles and trucks.

Barry Zekelman, Executive Chairman and CEO of Zekelman Industries, will discuss the pipe and tube business, construction and other markets his company serves.

John Axelberg is President of General Stamping & Metalworks. As a fabricator much like BTD last year, Mr. Axelberg will be able to speak to multiple markets his company serves.

Christopher Shipp, Vice President of Priefert Manufacturing/Priefert Steel is one of the largest cattle and rodeo suppliers, as well as a new service center. Mr. Shipp will have some interesting observations from the Southwest section of the U.S.

We are asking that the panelists leave enough time for an extended question-and-answer period. We put these companies together knowing there will be a variety of opinions about the current market conditions, the role of foreign steel and how Section 232 is impacting their industries.

12:00-12:45 p.m. – Lunch – Sponsored by Modern Metals

12:45-2:00 p.m. – Special Presentation: The State of Fortress America

Ron Insana is a well-known business and political analyst seen on CNBC. With the United States heading into mid-term elections, with renegotiations of various trade agreements and the use of Section 232 and 301, how will the United States deal with these issues? Ron will share his insights.

This is a program you do not want to miss.

2:00-2:15 p.m. – Fireside Chat with CRU Executive Chairman Robert Perlman & SMU President & CEO John Packard

This will be the first time our attendees get to meet and hear from the Executive Chairman and Founder of the CRU Group as the new owners of Steel Market Update. With the acquisition of Steel Market Update, the CRU Group is reinforcing its commitment to the steel markets in North America. Many of you already know CRU as the provider of the HRC index used by the CME, as well as in most of the contracts between steel mills, service centers and their customers.

2:15-2:45 p.m. – CRU North American Forecast & SMU CRU Indices

Chris Houlden is responsible for worldwide steel research at CRU, and Josh Spoores, Principal Analyst, is responsible for CRU’s Steel Sheet Monitor and the Steel Sheet Market Outlook. The two of them oversee the CRU HRC and other steel indexes.

CRU will provide a look into their North American steel pricing and commodity forecasts. With John Packard also sitting on the panel, the three will discuss a number of the proprietary indices provided by the group. This includes, but is not limited to, the differences between the SMU and CRU steel price indices and methodologies, service center inventories, SMU survey products and much more.

Both CRU and SMU will have exhibit booths during the conference and we will endeavor to answer any questions you might have about each of the companies’ products and services.

2:45-3:00 p.m. – John Packard will close the program and invite you to our 2019 SMU Steel Summit Conference.

If you are not yet registered for the 2018 SMU Steel Summit Conference we encourage you to do so. You can register through our website: or you can contact our offices at 772-932-7538.

If you have any questions please contact us at


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