Steel Products

Seven Days to 2019 SMU Steel Summit Conference

Written by John Packard

Written by: John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

Seven days to go…

Seven days before the beginning of the 2019 SMU Steel Summit Conference in Atlanta.

I have spoken to almost every single speaker, interfaced with the CRU Events team in London as well as our SMU team. All is going as planned. No pressure here (I say tongue in cheek).

There is still an immense amount of work to be completed during this the last week prior to the conference. Ray Culley of SMU is working on the scripting of the program, all the VOG (voice of god) introductions and other issues associated with the huge audio/visuals we have planned for this year. Ray also assists in managing me, which is probably the biggest challenge he has….

The CRU Team in London is making sure the large pieces of equipment are accounted for and will be in place when we open on Monday morning, Aug. 26. They are continuing to take registrations, prepare badges and the materials that will be given to each of our attendees as they collect their registration packets.

To give you an idea of the scope of this year’s conference, the program will be in excess of 60 pages. This is about six times larger than any program produced for past conferences. We (CRU and SMU) have worked diligently to produce the most entertaining, best networking and most valuable experience you will get at any conference you might attend.

SMU MobileWe are expanding the capabilities and usefulness of the SMU Events App, which every attendee should have downloaded and familiarized themselves with by now. If not, we will have people at the venue who can help you get the App as we will be using the App during the program. The App also contains all the attendee names, speaker biographies, speaker PowerPoint presentations (loaded just before they speak), surveys and real-timing polling, social media links, pictures, exhibitors and sponsors… Well, you get the picture. You need to download the Steel Market Update Events App from your App store.

What will I say during the conference? Am I prepared? This too is a process that takes weeks as I talk to the speakers and with the events staff both at SMU and CRU. I let the events of the day direct the content. I have a concept that I want to share with those gathered at this year’s event, but I want the message to ferment within me until I am clear what needs to be said. Every year is different and this one is no exception.

No, I don’t know what hat I will wear, or even if I will wear a hat this year… (although I must admit it helps keep the lights out of my eyes).

One year in the making and the 2019 SMU Steel Summit Conference will be the best attended flat rolled and plate steel conference in North America – by far. We will have record attendance breaking last year’s record 912 attendees. I will announce the final total number on Tuesday morning (Aug. 27) when we have our “official” conference opening (OK, so we do things a little different at SMU).

The pre-conference begins on Monday morning with the CME-sponsored Managing Price Risk Workshop with Andre Marshall of Crunch Risk, LLC, Jeremy Flack of Flack Global Metals, Gaurav Chhibbar of Metal Edge Partners and Sean Kessler of the CME Group. This pre-Summit workshop begins at 10:30 AM and will be held in the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway Hotel (right next to the convention center). The workshop will conclude at noon.

John Packard SMU Summit 2017The conference itself will open at 1 PM ET on Monday in the Georgia International Convention Center ( with registration/check-in beginning at 10 AM in the south lobby (closest to the hotels) of the convention center. We are in the same space we have been taking at the conference center for the past five years. You will notice some marked improvements as soon as you walk into the facility to collect your badges (which will be required to enter the conference hall).

At 1 PM I will speak, along with Chris Houlden and Josh Spoores of CRU, as we discuss CRU/SMU indices. We will roll out the SMU Service Center Inventories and Shipment data, which will be shared with Premium members beginning in September. Josh Spoores will then provide the CRU forecast for flat rolled steel for 2020. So, we start off the conference with a bang.

There are two other panels on Monday afternoon – one dealing with transportation issues (trucking and rail) and then our service center/toll processing panel. The first networking reception is hosted by Heidtman and will begin immediately after the final panel at 4 PM and last until 5:30 PM, giving everyone plenty of time to continue networking on your own at dinner and then later in the evening at the Marriott and Renaissance hotel lobby bars.

Tuesday morning at 8 AM sharp will be the “official” kickoff of the 2019 SMU Steel Summit Conference, so you will want to be in your seats early. We anticipate a standing-room-only crowd for the opening and for our first speaker: Tom Gibson, President & CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute. Tom will have plenty of interesting things to say about the challenges facing the domestic steel industry.

On Tuesday afternoon, I will conduct one of our popular real-time polls with confidential responses being registered through the SMU Events App. After that short program, we will recognize the 21 nominees and crown a winner of the 2019 SMU NexGen Leadership Award.

We end Tuesday with a one-on-four mill panel where I will interview the CEOs of SDI, Ternium Mexico, JSW USA and the Executive Vice President of Nucor about new capacity, demand and a couple of other “timely” topics. At the end of that panel, we will have our second networking cocktail party hosted by SDI from 4 PM until 5:30 PM.

Wednesday begins at 8 AM sharp, and I think attendees will be interested in hearing Ryan Smith who is the global steel costing analyst for CRU. Ryan will have traveled the furthest to speak at our conference, journeying from Australia to Atlanta. He will discuss what it actually costs to make steel, advantages/disadvantages of EAF and integrated production, advantages and disadvantages U.S. producers have over foreign steel, etc. If you buy or sell steel, you will want to be here for this one.

After Ryan is the ever-popular economist Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics. Before we adjourn the conference at 2:30 PM, we will have seen the likes of Ari Fleischer (former press secretary for President Bush), a consulting/analysts panel on the impact of new mill capacities on the market (and they won’t agree), as well as a panel on banking/M&A and what 2020 looks like for those financing inventories or looking to potentially buy or sell a company.

Our agenda is solid from top to bottom. You can find the agenda in the SMU Events App or you can access it here.

We continue to take registrations. Here are a few of the companies that registered late last week to attend this year’s conference: Union Corrugating Company, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., CMC Steel, NexCoil Steel – SSS Steel, Ferrosource LLC, Duferco Steel & ATW.

If you would like to register for this year’s conference, now only 7 days away, you can do so without paying any last-minute penalties by clicking on this link. You can also send an email to: or contact Paige Mayhair at 724-720-1012.

By the way, dress code for this conference is business casual with an emphasis on logo shirts with your company name on them. It helps with networking, and that’s one of the keys to our conference.

I look forward to seeing you in one week…

Latest in Steel Products