Steel Products

Happy 10th Birthday, Steel Market Update!

Written by Tim Triplett

Steel Market Update celebrates its 10-year anniversary this month.

In August 2008, John Packard incorporated the Steel Market Update newsletter and began selling subscriptions to those interested in learning more about what was happening in the flat rolled steel industry. As a steel veteran with more than 30 years of sales experience, Packard believed he could offer a different perspective than other publications.

Starting a company in August 2008 was a calculated risk, especially considering that the housing market was in a death spiral and the Great Recession and collapse of the stock market was less than 60 days away. However, it was a risk Packard was willing to take, recognizing the critical need among buyers and sellers for up-to-the-minute, actionable information.

SSMU 10 year anniversaryteel Market Update’s roots actually date back four years earlier when Packard began distributing a simple newsletter as a way to communicate with the customers he was serving as an agent for Winner Steel (now NLMK Sharon Coatings). With China beginning to dominate the market, causing vicious swings in the price of steel and other commodities, it was apparent steel buyers needed more timely information. Packard was determined to help his customers understand why steel prices were reacting to market forces and what they needed to do to protect themselves.

After Winner Steel was purchased by the NLMK and Duferco joint venture, and the agents for Winner Steel lost their representation contracts, Packard’s career was at a turning point. The question: find another job selling steel or pursue a new passion? The opportunity was obvious as it was apparent the existing trade publications were not reaching out to steel buyers in a productive way.

“I don’t know what you are going to write about a month from now,” warned one of Packard’s customers, an early subscriber to the new Steel Market Update newsletter. Ten years have now passed and there hasn’t been a day when there weren’t endless topics to explore in the rich and diverse flat rolled and plate steel markets.

In addition, over the years, Steel Market Update has added training workshops such as Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals, Steel 201: Introduction to Advanced High Strength & Other New Steels, Managing Price Risk (I & II) and a number of custom training programs. Steel Market Update also hosts the premier steel conference in North America, the SMU Steel Summit Conference, which will host more than 850 manufacturing and steel executives this year on Aug. 27-29 in Atlanta.

Of course, Packard no longer bangs out each issue of the newsletter on his own. He credits much of the organization’s success to the talented and dedicated team of professionals he has assembled:

  • Tim Triplett, Brett Linton, Sandy Williams, Diana Packard and Alison LaLonde are the full-time writing, customer service and accounting staff.
  • Peter Wright, Jack Marshall (Crunch Risk, LLC), David Feldstein (Flack Global Metals), Gaurav Chhibbar (Metal Edge Partners) and Lewis Leibowitz (the Law Offices of Lewis E. Leibowitz) are contributing writers.
  • Peter Wright, Chuck McDaniel, Mario Briccetti, Steve Painter are Steel 101 instructors.
  • Chuck McDaniel, Doug Bernd and Dean Linders (Red Bud Industries) are Steel 201 instructors.

On the occasion of the organization’s 10th anniversary, Packard also wants to recognize the CRU Group, which purchased Steel Market Update earlier this year. The CRU Group’s commitment ensures that the message developed by Steel Market Update will continue to be delivered for many years to come.

Importantly, Steel Market Update wants to thank all the members who have supported the company through the good years and bad. Thanks to the many subscribers who have championed the newsletter and participated in its workshops and other programs. Thanks to all the friends of SMU who have made this 10-year anniversary possible.

Thank You.

The SMU Team and the CRU Group

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